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iNew Mexico 

Bureau of Land Management 


Essays compiled by Gabrielle G. Palmer, Project Director 

Cultural Resources Series No. 11, 1993 



1 . Fred Nials, John Stein, and John Roney. Chacoan Roads in the Southern Periphery: 
Results of Phase II of the BLM Chaco Roads Project. 1987. 

2. Margaret A. Powers and Byron P.Johnson. Defensive Sites of Dinetah. 1987. 

3. Eileen Camilli, Dabney Ford, and Signa Larralde. Volume 1: Report of the First Field 
Season-San Augustine Coal Area, Archeological Investigations in West-Central New 
Mexico. 1988. 

4. Klara Kelley. Volume 2: Historic Cultural Resources-San Augustine Coal Area, 
Archeological Investigations in West-Central New Mexico. 1988. 

5. David W. Kayser and Charles H. Carroll. Volume 3: Report of the Final Field Season- 
San Augustine Coal Area, Archeological Investigations in West-Central New Mexico. 


6. Lynne Sebastian and Signa Larralde. Living on the Land: 11,000 Years of Human 
Adaptation in Southeastern New Mexico, An Overview of Cultural Resources in the 
Roswell District, Bureau of Land Management. 1989. 

7. Donald Couchman. Cooke's Peak — Pasaron Por Aqui: A Focus on United States History 
in Southwestern New Mexico. 1990. 

8. Rethinking Navajo Pueblitos. 1991 . 

Patrick Hogan. Navajo-Pueblo Interaction during the Gobernador Phase: 

A Reassessment of the Evidence. 

Michael P. Marshall. The Pueblito as a Site Complex: Archeological Investigations in 

the Dinetah District. 

9. Lori Stephens Reed and Paul F. Reed, editors. Cultural Diversity and Adaptation: The 
Archaic, Anasazi, and Navajo Occupation of the Upper San Juan Basin. 1992. 

10. LouAnn Jacobson and June-el Piper, editors. Interpreting the Past Research with 
Public Participation. 1992. 

1 1 . Gabrielle G. Palmer, Project Director. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro. 1993. 




^/773?5 foftW ' >fe 

. tit 
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro 


Essays compiled by Gabrielle G. Palmer, Project Director 
June-el Piper and LouAnn Jacobson, Editors 


Bureau of Land Management 

New Mexico State Office 

Santa Fe 

Copyright © 1989 by The Camino Real Project 

All rights reserved. Reproduction in any manner is expressly forbidden without 
written permission. 

ISBN-1-8781 78-12-1 


Map of El Camino Real, 
by Orlando Padilla. 



Don E. Alberts has a Ph.D. in Western and military history from the University of 
New Mexico. He is writer/editor for the Bureau of Reclamation in Albuquerque. 

John 0. Baxter has a Master's degree in history from the University of New Mexico 
and is an independent research consultant. 

Thomas E. Chavez has a Ph.D. in history from the University of New Mexico. He is 
the director of the Palace of the Governors, Museum of New Mexico. 

Mary Jean Cook has a Bachelor's degree in music from the University of Oklahoma. 
She has performed two seasons with the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. 

Shawn Dougherty has a Master's degree in music and music history from 
Northwestern University. 

Vernon J. Glover has a Bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the 
University of Kansas. He conducts performance reviews of aerospace contractors 
for Kirtland Air Force Base. 

Rick Hendricks has a Ph.D. in Ibero American Studies from the University of New 
Mexico. He is an editor of The Vargas Project at the University of New Mexico. 

James E. Ivey has a Bachelor's degree in history from the University of Texas at 
Austin. He is a research historian for the National Park Service, Southwest Region. 

Julia Jordan has a Master's degree in sociology from the University of Colorado, 
Boulder. She is an artist and resides in Santa Fe. 

Bob Julyan is an independent writer specializing in geographic names and is 
chairman of the Geographic Names Committee of the New Mexico Geographic 
Information Council, which has formal responsibility for all geographic names in 
the state. 

Gabrielle G. Palmer has a Ph.D. in Spanish colonial art history from the University 
of New Mexico and is the director of the Camino Real Project. 

Carroll L. Riley has a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of New Mexico. He 
is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. 

Contributors (continued) 

John Roney has a Master's degree in anthropology from Eastern New Mexico 
University. He is an archeologist with the Bureau of Land Management, 
Albuquerque District Office. 

Joseph P. Sanchez has a Ph.D. in colonial Latin American history from the University 
of New Mexico. He is the director of the Spanish Colonial Research Center, 
National Park Service, Southwest Regional Office. 

Albeit H. Schroeder has a Master's degree in anthropology from the University of 
Arizona. He received an honorary doctorate from New Mexico State University. 
He is an archeological consultant and former chief of interpretation, National Park 
Service, Southwest Regional Office. 

Dan Scurlock is a consulting naturalist, archeologist, and environmental-cultural 
historian. He has a Master's degree in anthropology. 

Marc Simmons has a Ph.D. in history from the University of New Mexico. He is an 
independent historian. 

Cordelia Thomas Snow has completed graduate studies at the University of New 
Mexico and is staff archeologist and historic sites archeologist for the Palace of 
the Governors, Museum of New Mexico. 

David H. Snow has a Master's degree in anthropology from Brandeis University. 
He is a consulting archeologist and owner of Cross-Cultural Research Systems. 

Robert R. White has degrees in geology and hydrology and a Ph.D. in American 
Studies from the University of New Mexico. He is a writer and a historian. 



Illustrations ix 

Foreword xi 

Preface xiii 

1. Through Desierto and Bosque: The Physical Environment of 

El Camino Real 1 

Dan Scurlock 

2. The Pre-Spanish Camino Real 13 

Carroll L. Riley 

3. At the Ends of the Roads in the 1500s 21 

Albert H. Schroeder 

4. Opening the Camino Real 29 

Marc Simmons 

5. North from Mexico, Inland and Beyond: 

El Camino Real 35 

Thomas E. Chavez 

6. Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade on 

the Camino Real 41 

James E. Ivey 

7. "A Headdress of Pearls": Luxury Goods Imported over the 

Camino Real during the Seventeenth Century 69 

Cordelia Thomas Snow 

8. Road to Rebellion, Road to Reconquest: The Camino Real 

and the Pueblo-Spanish War, 1680-1696 77 

Rick Hendricks 

9. Tracing the Camino Real: The Chihuahua Section 85 

John Roney 

10. Livestock on the Camino Real 101 

John 0. Baxter 


Contents (continued) 

1 1 . Agriculture and the Camino Real: Food Supplies for Zacatecas . . 113 

John 0. Baxter 

12. Bernardo Gruber and the New Mexican Inquisition 121 

Joseph P. Sanchez 

13. "Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts" 133 

David H. Snow 

14. Daughters of the Camino Real 147 

Mary Jean Cook 

15. A Brief Survey of Hispanic Music on the Camino Real 157 

Shawn Dougherty 

16. Early Anglo-American Artists along the Camino Real: 

John Mix Stanley and Peter and Thomas Moran 169 

Robert R. White 

17. The Camino Real in 1846-1847 177 

Albert Schroeder 

18. Military Guardians of the Nineteenth-Century Camino Real .... 187 

Julia Jordan 

19. Civil War along the Camino Real 195 

Don E. Alberts 

20. Rails on El Camino Real 205 

Vernon J. Glover 

21. The Persistence of Memory: Names along the Camino Real .... 213 

Bob July an 

Glossary 221 

References 223 



Frontispiece. Map of El Camino Real iii 

1 . Diverse environmental zones along El Camino Real 2 

2. Bosque del Apache 5 

3. Tucson Springs 10 

4. Prehistoric Indian trails 14 

5. Zoomorphic figures from prehistoric ceramic vessels 15 

6. Dress of the Indians of New Mexico 18 

7. The routes of Coronado, Chamuscado-Rodriguez, Espejo, 

Castano de Sosa, and Onate 22 

8. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado 24 

9. Juan de Onate 30 

10. Sixteenth-century map of New Spain 36 

11. Mission ruins at Salinas National Monument 42 

12. Our Lady of Guadalupe, by Jose deAlzibar (1782) 47 

13. San Antonio 49 

14. La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe del Ciudad Juarez, 

by Richard H. Kern (1850) 52 

15. Candlestick 54 

16. Eighteenth-century Franciscan missionary 62 

17. Silver forks 71 

18. Majolica plate 72 

19. Chocolatera and chocolate mixer 73 

20. Gold filigree rosary 75 

21. Encomendero, c. 1560 78 

22. Pistol 82 

23. Aerial and on-the-ground reconnaissance of portions of the 

Camino Real in Mexico: Map 1 88 

24. Aerial and on-the-ground reconnaissance of portions of the 

Camino Real in Mexico: Map 2 89 

25. Aerial and on-the-ground reconnaissance of portions of the 

Camino Real in Mexico: Map 3 90 

26. Modern 1-25 parallels the Camino Real 99 

27. Spanish barbs (Barbary horses) 102 

28. "Packed with bedding" 105 

29. Churro sheep 108 

30. Sheep camp 110 

31. New Mexico Scene, by Richard Tallent 114 


Illustrations (continued) 

32. Oxen and carreta 116 

33. Acequia, by Charles Graham 118 

34. Seal of the Mexican Inquisition 126 

35. Detail of Mieray Pacheco's 1758 map 130 

36. Wagon train 136 

37. Oscar Schiller with G. W. Hodge's mule team 140 

38. Wagons from Mexico just arrived in Santa Fe, 1874 144 

39. Spanish pioneer woman, c. 1650 148 

40. Women in Mexico, detail in untitled work by Carl Nebel 151 

41. Family in front of log cabin 153 

42. Taos Pueblo woman 155 

43. Taz-ayz-Slath, wife of Geronimo, and child 155 

44. Organ 159 

45. Sheet music 165 

46. Valencia, New Mexico, byjohn Mix Stanley 171 

47. Ojo Caliente, by Thomas Moran 175 

48. New Mexico Mountaineer, c. 1840 179 

49. Plan ofthe Battle of Brazito 182 

50. General Wool and staff in the Calle Real, Saltillo, Mexico, c. 1847 . 185 

51. Mescalero Apache scouts 190 

52. Tenth Cavalry 192 

53. Battle of Valverde 198 

54. Union soldiers on parade at Fort Craig 202 

55. Laying track 206 

56. AT&SF engine no. 137, "Baby" 208 

57. Sandia Mountains, by Vincent Colyer 214 

58. Organ Mountains 215 

59. Isleta Pueblo 216 

60. Zuni Pueblo, by Captain S. Eastman 217 

61. Old Mesilla Plaza, 1885 219 



The Camino Real Project, directed by Dr. Gabrielle Palmer, resulted in several 
valuable contributions to our knowledge and interpretation of southwestern 
history. These include: 

• the archeological inventory of the Camino Real; 

• the Camino Real exhibit (El Camino Real: Un Sendero Histohco), funded by the 
National Endowment for the Humanities, which has been shown in several 
western states and has just opened at the Mexican Cultural Institute in 
Washington D.C.; 

• a catalogue, poster, and lecture series produced in conjunction with the 

production of a map and brochure of the Camino Real and placement of 33 
highway markers in New Mexico in collaboration with the New Mexico State 
Highway Department and the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities; 

placement of 1 3 highway markers in the State of Chihuahua in collaboration 
with the Chihuahua State Highway Department; 

completion of aerial reconnaissance surveys over the road in New Mexico 
and Chihuahua; 

printing of a portfolio of fine arts photographs of the road in New Mexico 
and Chihuahua; 

and publication of this collection of essays, which provide insights on the 
significance of the Camino Real during the 300 years of travel along this 
1 800-mile corridor. Essay topics in this volume include the physical nature 
of the trail and the introduction of material culture, technology, customs, 
and ideas that helped to define the arts, culture, and religion of Spanish 
New Mexico. 

The New Mexico Bureau of Land Management is pleased to be a contributing 
partner to the Camino Real Project. BLM archeologists inventoried several 
hundred miles of the Camino Real and recorded many features associated with the 
long-term use of the "Royal Road." 





The completion of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is the result of the sharing 
of information, skills, and the extensive collection of material pulled together for 
the Camino Real exhibit. Figures included in the volume complement the text and 
emphasize points made regarding the movement of goods and culture up and 
down the road. Some of the essays were written more than four years ago, at the 
beginning of the project, and may not reflect the most current information 
available. Nevertheless, they still address important aspects of the Camino Real 
that are of interest to scholars and the general public. 

We would like to thank the many individuals who went out of their way to 
assist in locating the illustrations and photos used here. We would particularly 
like to express our appreciation to the authors who responded so quickly to our 
request for a final review of the text. The general enthusiasm reflected for all 
aspects of the Camino Real Project is indicative of the tremendous interest in 
Southwest history. We look forward to future products and accomplishments 
from the Camino Real Project. 

Stephen Fosberg 
Series Editors 



In 1540, decades before the founding of the first English settlements on the 
eastern seaboard, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado led a expedition into what is 
now the American Southwest in search of adventure and gold. Subsequent 
explorations in the second half of the sixteenth century penetrated into 
present-day New Mexico. However, it would be left to Juan de Onate, the head of 
a large colonizing expedition, to establish a permanent Spanish settlement near 
the juncture of the Rio Grande and the Chama River in 1598. 

In coming north, Onate traveled portions of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro 
that had already been established. Once he left his last staging area near 
present-day Santa Barbara, Chihuahua, however, he would blaze the last segments 
of the trail across unchartered country. This King's Highway to the Interior Lands 
would eventually stretch 1 800 miles to link Mexico City/Tenochtitlan to the distant 
outpost of the empire, Santa Fe, established as the capital of "La Nueva Mexico" in 

For more than three hundred years it served as a major route for travel. It was 
also a primary conduit for change, responsible for the introduction of objects of 
material culture, of technologies, of customs and ideas which helped to define the 
arts, culture, and religion of Spanish New Mexico. The essays in this publication 
provide many insights into this historic process, the physical nature of the trail 
itself, as well as some of the important and colorful aspects of its past. 

These essays were first commissioned by the Camino Real Project, a nonprofit 
organization formed in 1988, with the goal of rescuing this famous old trail from 
oblivion and increasing public awareness of its importance. The first organizations 
to support the project were the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation 
Department (NMSHTD) and the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities 
(NMEH). The grants received from these organizations enabled us to research old 
maps and historical sources and to fly over the trail in New Mexico to ascertain 
how much of it could still be seen. As a result of our initiatives, thirty-three special 
highway markers were placed along the New Mexico highways that paralleled the 
historic route, indicating some of its more important sites. A map illustrating the 
marker locations and providing a brief overview of New Mexico history was 
published concurrently with financial support from both NMSHTD and NMEH. 

This period also marked the beginning of a cordial and productive 
collaboration between the Camino Real Project and officials of the State of 
Chihuahua, Mexico — with the office of the governor, as well as with the 


Departamento de Desarollo Social and the Departamento de Carreteras y Obras 
Publicas. They generously provided us with the means to fly over northern 
Chihuahua, enabling the project archeologists to identify and the photographers 
to record long portions of the original trail that still remain etched in this stark and 
beautiful landscape. 

These various efforts culminated in the official designation in October 1992 
by Governor Baeza Melendez of La Ruta de Onate with the unveiling of a series of 
historical markers along the highways that link Santa Barbara, Chihuahua, with the 
border town of Ciudad Juarez, across the river from El Paso, Texas. We would like 
to take this opportunity to extend our sincerest thanks not only to Governor Baeza 
Melendez, but also to our friends Lie. Luz Ernestina Fierro Murga, Sr. Ramon 
Navarro Salazar, Ing. Luis dej. Lujan Pena, Ing. Jose Luis A. Fernandez Casillas, Sr. 
Jose Luis Chavez Ochoa, and our intrepid pilot, Capitan Humberto D'Oporto, for 
their support. 

In 1989, the Camino Real Project and the Latin American Institute at the 
University of New Mexico were awarded a substantial grant by the National 
Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to develop a traveling exhibit. Entitled "El 
Camino Real: Un Sendero Historico," and accompanied by a full-color 40-page 
catalog, this exhibit has been extensively displayed in New Mexico, Texas, and 
Colorado as well as Washington, D.C. 

The NMSHTD and NMEH grants had also enabled the project to commission a 
series of essays covering a broad range of topics on the history of the trail. Thanks 
to the collaboration of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), with additional help 
from NEH, these essays are now being published and distributed. 

We are indebted to the many distinguished historians who contributed these 
essays; to Mr. and Mrs. Monte Jordan, who first suggested their publication; and 
to BLM State Director Larry Woodard for generously supporting this and other 
Camino Real Project goals and activities. Karen Harris, the project's executive 
secretary, worked closely with June-el Piper, as did I with LouAnn Jacobson and 
others of the BLM staff in finalizing the details of this edition. On behalf of the 
Camino Real Project staff, we wish to thank everyone for their courteous and 
pleasant collaboration. 

It is our hope that all of these efforts will contribute to the eventual designation 
of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro as a National — and some day, as an 
International — Historic Trail. 

Gabhelle G. Palmer, Project Director 

1 . Through Desierto 
and Bosque 

The Physical Environment of El Camino Real 

Dan Scurlock 

The northern portion of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, which 
extended 580 miles from Ciudad Chihuahua to Santa Fe, traversed 
some of the most desolate and rugged terrain in the Greater 
Southwest. The region lying between Ciudad Chihuahua and Socorro 
(436 miles) was known in the early colonial period as tierra incognita 
(Moorhead 1957:107-108, 1958:8-9). It is now known as the 
Chihuahuan Desert, the second largest of the four great North 
American deserts. In general, the Chihuahuan Desert is a vast, high 
desert with sparse vegetation and only occasional springs and rare 
perennial streams. Four hundred years ago it was as it is today, a 
region of climatic extremes with a wide range of annual temperatures, 
low and erratic rates of precipitation, high winds, low humidity, high 
evapotranspiration rates, and intensive solar radiation (Vivo Escoto 

Most of the region lies within the Mexican Highland section of the 
Basin and Range province, which is characterized by north-northwest 
trending mountain ranges and coalescing basins {bolsones) (Hunt 
1967:320-323; Schmidt 1973:12). Situated between the Sierra Madre 
Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental, this semi-arid region is 
composed of a vast expanse of desert mountains, rain-shadowed 
bolsones, outwash plains, low hills, and bajadas. Many of the fault 
block ranges are large anticlines, some of which rise more than 6500 
feet above the desert floor (Brown 1982:169; Cordoba et al. 

North of Albuquerque, extending to Santa Fe, the travel corridor 
lies within the Southern Rocky Mountains province. The Camino Real 
follows the Rio Grande Rift, which is flanked by mountain ranges 
originating from anticlinal uplifts and intrusive stocks. Major ranges 

Dan Scurlock 

<>/Jfi£Y0 KzC0t 

Figure 1. Travelers on El Camino Real passed through diverse environmental zones; 

upper right: Le Castor (the beaver), engraving, c. 1815, byJacques-Eistache De Seve, 

courtesy ofAmon Carter Museum, Fort Worth. 

Through Desierto and Bosque 

include the Jemez, Ortiz, and Sangre de Cristo mountains (Hunt 1967:246-249). 

Elevation in Mexico ranges from 4709 feet at Ciudad Chihuahua to 3719 feet 
above mean sea level at Ciudad Juarez (Schmidt 1973:20). At the northern 
terminus of the Camino Real, at Santa Fe, the elevation is just over 7000 feet. 

Erosion of the sierras since their formation in the late Tertiary period has 
created the bajadas, gradual sloping surfaces extending from the base of the 
mountains to the edge of the basins. Most of the bolsones are internally drained, 
and some of them have filled with aeolian or alluvial deposits and have turned into 
flat, dry plains (composed of limestone or gray gravels) or sand dunes (Brown 
1982:169; Jackson and Wood 1975:118, 136-144). These bolsones, which once 
contained pluvial lakes (a few still do), are xeric and support only sparse, if any, 
vegetation. Relatively persistent winds have carried the finer, dried sedimentary 
deposits downwind and in some instances have formed extensive dune systems, 
such as those at White Sands and Samalayuca (Brown 1982:176). 

Of the interior drainages, the Rio Santa Maria-Laguna de Santa Maria and the 
Rio del Carmen are the most extensive. These and other rivers and lagunas in the 
area have become drier as increasing amounts of water have been diverted from 
drainages for irrigation and for use in urban areas. The Rio Conchos-Rio Grande 
forms the only drainage system in the region that flows into the sea. A fair number 
of springs are found in north-central Chihuahua (Schmidt 1973:21, 23, fig. 9). 

The diverse physiographic features in the region, along with other geographic 
characteristics, affect the amount of precipitation that the region annually 
receives. These amounts vary from mean annual highs of 15.1 inches at Ciudad 
Chihuahua and 14.2 inches at Santa Fe to mean annual lows of 7.7 inches at El 
Paso and 6.7 inches at Las Cruces (Gabin and Lesperance 1977; Schmidt 1973:20). 
Most of the rainfall occurs during thunderstorms in the summer; winter 
precipitation usually occurs as a result of Pacific frontal storms (Brown 1982:170). 
Appreciable rnowfall is only experienced in the higher mountain elevations and 
along the Rio Grande valley from Socorro north to Santa Fe. 

Summers are generally hot; winters are cold. Frost-free seasons vary from 
250 days in the southern portions ofthe region to 140 days in the northern reaches 
(Brown 1982:170; Tuan et al. 1973:87). 

The annual average temperature at Ciudad Chihuahua is 63.7 °F with a low in 
January of 47.3 T- and a high in July of 77.3 °F. At Ciudad Juarez the figures are 
62.6 °F, 41 .9°F, and 81 .7 T, respectively; for Santa Fe the January and July averages 

Dan Scurlock 

are considerably lower, atca. 32°Fand 70°F, respectively (Schmidt 1973:20; Tuan 
etal. 1973:76). 

Available moisture and temperature range are the two most important factors 
related to the amount and type of vegetation present along the Camino Real. Soil 
types, exposure, and drainage are also important determinants. 

Most of the lowland area south of Socorro is dominated by desert scrub of 
creosote bush {Larrea tridentata), tarbush (Flourensia cernua), and whitethorn acacia 
(Acacia neovernicosa). On finer-grained soils saltbush (Athplex spp.) communities 
dominate; mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana) is commonly found on 
sandy, wind-eroded hummocks. Above the plains, on upland outcrops, arroyos, 
bajadas, and foothills, are succulentlike plants and shrubs, such as various Yucca 
and Agave species, sotol {Dasylirion leiophyllum and wheeleh), sacahuiste {Nolina 
spp.), ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens), and catclaw acacia [Acacia greggi) (Brown 

Between these uplands and the lowland plains are the semidesert grasslands 
dominated historically by perennial bunch grasses, including grama (Bouteloua 
spp.), tobosa (Hilaria mutica), and a host of other grass species. Historically, cattle 
grazing has been intense, supporting many large ranches in the region. Shrubs 
were sparsely scattered over the grasslands until a century ago but have increased 
dramatically in the past hundred years, primarily because of grazing and the 
suppression of range fires (Brown 1982:127; Shreve 1942:191-194). 

The bolson depressions, which receive infrequent runoff, are more mesic than 
the two floral communities just described. Here are found semidesert grasslands 
dominated by tobosa (Hilaria mutica) or alkali sacatons (Sporobolus wrightii or 
airoides), mesquite, Mormon tea (Ephedra trifiirca), or soapweed yucca (Yucca elata). 
On the downwind side of these playas are dune fields populated by open plant 
assemblages of sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia), Yucca elata, mesquite, Mormon 
tea, and various dropseeds (Sporobolus spp.) and Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis 
hymenoides) (Brown 1982:176-177). 

Extensive canopy forests dominated by valley cottonwood (Populus fremontii 
var. wislizenii) with an understory of willows (Salix spp.) and saltgrass (Distichlis 
spicata) were found along the few perennial streams, at least until recent times. 
Periodic floods destroyed portions of these riparian woodlands, or bosques, and 
on large streams, such as the Rio Grande, floodwaters cut new channels and 
deposited rich sediments across the floodplain. After the abandonment of the 
Camino Real in the late nineteenth century, the introduced salt cedar (Tamarix 

Through Desierto and Bosque 

Figure 2. Bosque del Apache, photo by Mark Nohl, New Mexico Magazine. 

chinensis) and Russian olive (Elaegnus angustifolia) have invaded the bosques, 
becoming the dominant vegetation along some stretches (Brown 1982:242; 
Scurlock 1988a). 

A number of mammals found along the route provided travelers with meat. 
On the semidesert grasslands were black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) and 
pronghorn antelope {Antilocapra americana). The desert scrub supported mule 
deer (Odocoileus hemionus), desert cottontail (Sylvilagus auduboni), desert bighorn 
sheep (Ovis canadensis), and scaled and Gambel's quail (Callipepela squamata, C. 
gambelii) (Brown 1982:129-130, 178; Schmidt 1973:34-38). Along the major 
stream valleys and on the lagunas were sandhill cranes {Grus canadensis), a large 
variety of ducks, several species of geese, wild turkey (Meleaghs gallopavo), and 
grizzly and black bear (Ursus horribilis, U. americana) (Ligon 1961:38-44, 106-107). 
Grease from the latter two species was used to lubricate axles and wheels of 
carretas (carts) and carros (wagons), and hides were used as lap robes. All but the 
rabbit and mule deer populations were dramatically reduced by hunting and 
habitat loss during the late historical period. 

All of the above environmental factors played a role in the physical route of 
the camino, the rate of travel, the location of parajes, or campsites, and the mode 
of transportation. In general, historical roads traversed relatively flat, passable 
terrain and followed or extended from one dependable water source to another 

Dan Scurlock 

(Scurlock 1988b:3). In the southern portion of the region the Camino Real 
traversed the extensive plains and basins, with their firm, gravelly soils. Springs 
and a few rivers provided the necessary water for travelers and their livestock, and 
grama and other nutritious grasses provided adequate forage for animals. 

The northern portion of the Camino Real extended up the Rio Grande valley 
from El Paso to Santa Fe, except for the 90-mile-long Jornada del Muerto "cutoff." 
The terrain was generally flat, with a dependable water supply, fuelwood, and 
shelter. The surrounding uplands were rich in grass and shrub forage for livestock 
and draft animals, at least until the nineteenth century. As trail traffic increased 
and as villages along the corridor used more of the land for grazing, the grasslands 
and bosques afforded decreasing amounts of grass and forage. The overgrazing 
was exacerbated by periodic droughts, resulting in more losses of livestock 

In stretches, however, the rugged terrain, sandy soils, or seasonal flooding 
caused major problems. One of these sections, the stretch of the Rio Grande from 
Dona Ana to El Contadera, led to selection of the Jornada del Muerto as an 
alternative route. Here, the valley swings westward, narrows, and the flanking 
uplands are dissected by numerous and deep arroyos, making cart or wagon travel 
virtually impossible (Moorhead 1958:20; Gregg 1966[II]:73-74). 

Other sections of the Rio Grande Valley and the southern portion of the route, 
from El Paso to Ciudad Chihuahua, have deep sands that impeded or precluded 
travel by loaded, wheeled vehicles. Two of the notable sandy stretches were along 
the east side of the valley from below Albuquerque to the La Joya de Sevilleta area, 
and the Parida hill across from Socorro. A third obstacle of deep sand was about 
40 miles south of Ciudad Juarez. These sections will be discussed in some detail 

Natural river crossings, or fords (vados), enabled travelers and their trains to 
cross to settlements, to reach other branches of the road, to avoid floodwaters, 
or to find better grass or other necessities. During flood periods, usually from late 
April to May, when the snowpacks melted, or from early July to late September, 
during summer thunderstorms, crossings could be dangerous. The two fords 
above El Paso are good examples; even when the water was relatively low, these 
crossings were difficult because of the swift current and quicksand. Merchants 
had to unload their cargos and ferry them across in dugouts or convert the wagons 
into rafts to float their goods across (Moorhead 1957:120-121). Barelas Ford, just 
south of Albuquerque, provided access to the west bank road, which was more 

Through Desierto and Bosque 

easily traversed by heavy wagons than the sandier, east bank route (Simmons 

Because of the seasonal floods and the loose, deep sands, the road split into 
several alternate routes at various locations. For example, the "dry" route below 
Albuquerque followed the east bank of the Rio Grande to just north of Socorro. 
Stretches of deep sand sometimes forced wagons and carts to take the branch 
along the west bank of the river over firmer ground. During times of flooding, 
travelers were forced to follow the rough and difficult road through the sandhills 
that bordered the eastern edge of the floodplain (Simmons 1982:167). 

Only two bridges apparently were ever built on the Rio Grande section of the 
Camino Real, and neither survived the floods for extended periods. One was built 
across the river at El Paso in the latter part of the nineteenth century, probably in 
an attempt to avoid the treacherous ford described above. This bridge, 
constructed of pine (ponderosa?), was more than 500 feet long and about 1 7 feet 
wide and was supported by eight caissons. Frequent floods resulted in intensive 
repairs and maintenance until the early nineteenth century, when it washed away. 
The second bridge, built for foot or animal traffic, spanned the river at San Felipe; 
it was constructed of pine logs over eight caissons. The bridge was built before 
1791 but washed away by 1 846 (Moorhead 1957:120-121). 

Strategic camp sites with a dependable water supply, fuelwood, and grass for 
the livestock were named and illustrated on early maps. Because of these 
resources and their location on the Camino Real, some became settlements during 
the colonial period. Parajes were important not only because of the resources but 
also as places of rest after many hours or sometimes days over long, hard stretches 
of road (Moorhead 1957:122). 

At least two parajes took on added importance as staging areas where wagon 
trains or livestock herds could rest and regroup before or after a difficult stretch 
of road or a long journey. One of these was El Contadera, which lay at the north 
end of the dreaded Jornada del Muerto. Here, between the lava flows of El 
Contadera Mesa and cienegas (wetlands or marshes) along the east bank of the Rio 
Grande, people and beasts of burden could rest and find abundant water, grass, 
and wood (Wilson 1976). 

The other paraje, La Joya de Sevilleta, was an important rendezvous point for 
wagon caravans {conductas) and livestock herds by the early nineteenth century 
(Baxter 1 987:63). It was the last major settlement for southbound caravans before 
they reached the Jornada del Muerto. 

Dan Scurlock 

The environment of other important sites along the Camino Real affected 
travel. These locations are listed below along with a brief description and their 
location in aggregate miles south of Santa Fe. 

La Bajada (Mile 19). Formed by an escarpment of black basalt, La Bajada is a 
steep grade northeast of Cochiti Pueblo, approximately 16 miles southwest 
of Santa Fe. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the road at this 
location was a series of steep, hairpin curves that made a hazardous descent 
for loaded carts or wagons. One of the more important landmarks on the 
northern portion of the route, this escarpment was the dividing line between 
the Rio Abajo and the Rio Arriba (the lower and upper regions) of colonial New 
Mexico (Pearce 1965:80; Simmons 1982:38). Later, the American military 
opened a route south of Santa Fe, which skirted the east end of La Bajada 
(Scurlock 1990). 

Barelas Ford (Mile 64). Located two miles south of Albuquerque, this crossing 
served the east bank and west bank branches of the Camino Real in central 
New Mexico. A ferry operated here in the mid-nineteenth century (Scurlock 

Valencia-Tome Sandhills (Miles 80-95). Deep sand both north and south of 

Valencia-Tome impeded cart and wagon travel and sometimes could only be 

traversed by mule train (Moorhead 1958:1 10). 

Lajoya Sandhills (Mile 117). At this location long, steep hills of sand closed in 

on the Rio Grande, causing difficult road travel for several miles (Moorhead 


Parida Sandhill or La Vuelta de Socorro (Mile 134). Near Parida was more deep 
sand, this time on a steep hill that had to be negotiated by doubling the teams 
and pulling the wagons over in relays. Other sandhills in the immediate area 
were a problem as well (Moorhead 1958:111; Marshall and Walt 1984:238). 
James J. Webb, a trader in the 1840s, called Parida Sandhill "the worst piece 
of road between Santa Fe and Chihuahua" (Bieber 1931:189; Marshall and Walt 

El Contadera (Mile 177). This pass is between the steep sides of a lava flow 
(Mesa El Contadera) and the marshes along the river just north of Fray 
Cristobal. Livestock were rested here before crossing the Jornada del Muerto 
(Marshall and Walt 1984:240; Wilson 1976:6-7). 

Through Desierto and Bosque 

Jornada del Muerto (Miles 191-281). This 90-mile stretch was virtually devoid 
of water except after a substantial rain, and the only available fuel was dried 
yucca, mesquite, or cattle dung. Caravans usually left El Contadera or Fray 
Cristobal in the afternoon or early evening to avoid the intense heat and to 
reach the Laguna del Muerto early in the morning after a 25-mile march. If 
this "lake" contained no water, it could usually be found at a mountain spring 
about five miles to the west at Ojo del Muerto. Sometimes water could be 
found at Aleman camp, 18 miles south of Laguna del Muerto, or at Ojo del 
Perrillo another 18 miles along the road. Travel across the vast, relatively 
barren Jornada del Muerto was likened to crossing the sea by some travelers 
(Moorhead 1958:112-113; Marshall and Walt 1984:235, 242). 

El Paso del Norte Fords (Miles 325, 329). Two river crossings, one six and the 
other two miles above the town of El Paso, enabled travelers to cross the river 
from the main trail along the left bank. Both crossings were dangerous 
because of quicksand and the swift current (Moorhead 1958:112-113). 

Medanos de Samalayuca (Mile 370). The Medanos de Samalayuca, located south 
of Ciudad Juarez in northern Chihuahua, was also a difficult area to traverse. 
Covering 97 square miles, these continually moving dunes of fine sand were 
an obstacle to cart and wagon travel. Heavily loaded wheeled vehicles were 
usually routed around the dunes via a branch road down the right bank of the 
Rio Grande to Presidio de San Elizeario. From there the road turned back to 
the southwest over the Jornada del Cantarrecio. This detour took two days. 
Otherwise, cargos were transferred to mules for transporting goods across 
this barrier (Bartlett 1965[II]:373-377; Cordoba et al. 1969:36; Moorhead 

Ojo Caliente (Mile 431). This hot spring, which issued from the top of a small 
hill about 20 feet in height, was the last dependable water supply before 
travelers entered the Jornada de Jesus Maria (Moorhead 1958:16, 115). 

Jornada de Jesus Maria (Mile 475). This 45-mile, waterless stretch south of the 
Rio Carmen required a night's camp en route. The ground was level and 
provided a fast, hard-surfaced road for travel (Moorhead 1958:115). 

Laguna deEncinillas (Mile 550). Located in a valley south of the Jornada de Jesus 
Man'a, this brackish lake was the site of three haciendas with good grazing 
lands. There were also several springs at this location (Moorhead 

Dan Scurlock 

Sacramento River Ford (Mile 501). This river crossing was located just north of 
Ciudad Chihuahua. Onate called this river Agua de San Jose (Moorhead 
1958:13, 116; Gregg 1966[I1]:82). 

Clearly the rate of travel along the trail varied with the conditions imposed 
by the environment. Travel between reliable water sources, such as perennial 
streams and springs, tended to be somewhat leisurely paced, but forced marches 
were necessary over the waterless stretches. Deep sands sometimes delayed 
trains for a day or two, and swift currents and "quicksand" at fords could cause 
considerable delays. About 12 miles a day was an average rate of travel for a cart 
or wagon caravan, but the 90-mile-long Jornada del Muerto was sometimes 
traversed in two days, including night travel. The length of the day's march was 
also determined by the weight of the cargo and the mode of transport (Moorhead 


Figure 3. Tucson Springs, photo by Michael Marshall. 


Through Desierto and Bosque 

The difficulty of the terrain, climatic extremes, and other environmental 
factors notwithstanding, thousands of travelers spanning almost three centuries 
followed the Camino Real between Santa Fe and Chihuahua. Some of them died 
because of exposure to the harsh elements and attacks by Native Americans. The 
environment that brought about these tragedies and made travel such a challenge 
for many successful adventurers is slowly reclaiming the scars of the cart and 
wagon wheels and the artifacts discarded or lost along the way, but the heritage 
of this significant corridor of travel will endure for a much longer time. 

Suggested Reading 

Dick-Peddie, William A. 

1993 New Mexico Vegetation: Past, Present, and Future. University of New 
Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 

Gehlbach, Frederick R. 

1981 Mountain Islands and Desert Seas: A Natural History of the U.S. Mexican 
Borderlands. Texas A & M University, College Station. 

Olin, George 

1961 Mammals of the Southwest Mountains and Mesas. Southwestern Parks and 
Monuments Association, Popular Series No. 9, Globe, AZ. 


2. The Pre-Spanish 
Camino Real 

Carroll I. Riley 

The great trunk route, developed in the seventeenth century to 
link Santa Fe and the province of New Mexico with the Spanish supply 
base in Chihuahua, is often called the Royal Road, or Camino Real. Not 
only the Camino Real but, to some degree, virtually all the roads and 
trails used by the Spaniards in the Southwest followed earlier Indian 
trails that crisscrossed the Southwest and extended beyond its borders 
in all directions. Nor was the Camino Real the first route to connect 
the Southwest with greater Mexico. Predating this Spanish highway 
were two prehistoric trails that reached deep into Mexico, each having 
a powerful and lasting influence on the Indian cultures of the 

The earlier of the two, the West Mexican Interior Trail, was an 
ancient roadway that extended along the eastern flank of the Sierra 
Madre Occidental and connected western Mesoamerica with the 
sophisticated Chalchihuites culture of Durango and Zacatecas. In 
Durango this route was joined by a much traveled trail which brought 
goods from the west coast of Mexico across the sierra to the 
Chalchihuites region. This interior trunk trail eventually continued 
northward, and sometime after A.D. 1000 it linked up with the great 
trading center of Casas Grandes in western Chihuahua. 

Casas Grandes quickly became the primary redistribution center 
for goods moving into the upper Southwest. The Casas Grandes 
merchants exported marine shell, parrots, macaws and their feathers, 
and copper objects (especially copper bells). In return for these goods, 
they received turquoise, serpentine, pottery vessels filled with salt and 
other perishables, meerschaum, and alibates flint. One of the 
important northern segments of the Casas Grandes trail network was 
a route that extended from around El Paso to the upper Rio Grande. I 


Carroll L Riley 

Figure 4. Indian trails were used by the Spaniards when they first entered 
the Southwest (Rio Grande Pueblo Indian Trail marked in dots). 


The Pre-Spanish Catnino Real 

will refer to this segment as the Rio Grande Pueblo Indian Trail. When the 
Spaniards established control of New Mexico, this Rio Grande Trail became the 
upper part of the Camino Real. 

An important trail running generally west to east from southeastern Arizona 
to the lower Conchos Valley crossed the Rio Grande Trail somewhere in the El 
Paso-Las Cruces area. The older, western portion of this road tied the 
Jornada-Mogollon and Mimbres Indians of southern New Mexico with the Pueblo 
world and was a major avenue by which trade goods and religious ceremonies, 
such as the kachina cult, reached the Pueblo Indian region. The southeastward 
extension to the lower Conchos River was pioneered by the Jornada-Mogollon 
peoples who settled the La Junta Basin sometime after A.D. 1200. 

Casas Grandes flourished in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, but by 
the end of the fifteenth century the city was in ruins. The roadways leading from 
Casas Grandes fell into disuse and the connection with Mexico shifted westward. 
The Rio Grande Trail segment remained intact, however, and it quickly became 
incorporated into a second interregional trail system. 

The decline of Casas Grandes coincided with the rise of vigorous trading 
communities in the mountain valleys of northern Sonora. Beginning about the 
middle of the fourteenth century, these statelets became anchor points in a trail 
connecting the Southwest with western Mesoamerica. Within a century the West 
Mexican Coastal Trail was the major route from the Mexican heartland to the 
Southwest. This route threaded its way between the Sierra Madre Occidental and 
the Pacific coast. Beginning in Nayarit it ran through Sinaloa and Sonora, with 
branches reaching westward to the coast and eastward into the mountains. 

Figure 5. Zoomorphic figures from prehistoric ceramic vessels. 


Carroll L Riley 

In the modern state of Sonora the trail turned inland to the territories of the 
middle and upper Sonora and Yaqui river valleys. Then it progressed northward 
into the basin and range country of southeastern Arizona and southwestern New 
Mexico. One branch extended to the El Paso area, but the main route had its 
northern terminus at the Pueblo trading town of Cibola, the modern Zuni. This 
road supplied the Indians of the American Southwest with important trade goods, 
especially marine shell and parrots and macaws and their feathers. In return the 
Southwestern suppliers sent various goods, including turquoise, peridot, garnet, 
and other semiprecious stones; pottery; salt; processed bison products; and 
perhaps slaves. This trail quickly attracted Spanish attention, and Spanish parties 
began to use it in their slaving raids as early as 1530. Ten years later a major 
Spanish expedition marched over this route on the way to the Southwest. 

Two major trunk trails connected Cibola-Zuni to the Rio Grande Trail. One 
threaded through the Zuni Mountains to Acoma and on to Tiwa country. The 
second cut across the northern edge of the Plains of San Agustin to the region 
around present-day Socorro. The southern terminus of the Rio Grande 
north-south road was in the Manso-Suma region around El Paso with an important 
extension down river to La Junta. To the west and south, the ancient route that 
once tied the Rio Grande valley to the Mimbres country and the Animas Valley was 
still in use — Cabeza de Vaca and his three companions may have traveled over it 
in 1 535 — though by that time it mainly functioned as a southern connector to the 
great West Coast traders' road. 

By the sixteenth century, however, a major function of the trail was to link 
the Manso and Suma of the El Paso area, and the village-living Patarabuyes and 
nomadic Jumano of La Junta, with the Rio Grande Pueblos. It was also the main 
lifeline through which the detached Piro appendage of the Pueblo Indian world 
maintained contact with the river Pueblos in the upper reaches of the Rio Grande. 

In its lower portion the route seems to have followed the river rather closely. 
From around modern San Marcial to near present-day Rincon, however, the Rio 
Grande swings in an arch around the western slopes of the Cristobal and Sierra 
Caballo ranges. Extending north and south, roughly parallel to the river but some 
twenty miles east of it, is the Jornada del Muerto, a series of ancient lake basins, 
quite flat in most places though bordered on the east by rugged mountains. Indian 
traders had long used the Jornada del Muerto cutoff and were well acquainted 
with its isolated springs and waterholes. When Spanish parties began moving up 
the Rio Grande they obtained Indian guides to take them through the Jornada. 
For the Spaniards it was an important alternate track because the mountainous 
terrain on the east side of the Rio Grande and the extensive arroyo cutting on the 


The Pre-Spanish Camino Real 

west side made it very difficult for pack trains and wagons to go along or near the 
river. Because they used neither pack animals nor carts, Indian traders in 
pre-Spanish times had their choice of trails. They undoubtedly used either the line 
of the river or the Jornada del Muerto depending upon circumstances at a given 

North of the Jornada the main trading route probably followed the Rio Grande, 
where pueblos extended along the river like beads on a string. At least from the 
mid-fourteenth century, however, sizable towns existed east and north of Socorro 
and ten to twenty miles east of the Rio Grande. A spur from the main Rio Grande 
route likely encompassed these towns and then looped northward to intersect an 
extension of the San Agustin route from Cibola. This latter road, more or less 
following the route of modern U.S. Highway 60, crossed the Rio Grande Pueblo 
Indian Trail and then continued south of the Manzano Mountains to Abo, Quarai, 
and the other pueblos of the Tompiro region. During late prehistoric times not 
only trade materials but religious ideologies (for example, the cremation cult) 
reached the Tompiro region from Cibola. 

The main Rio Grande Trail continued northward from the edge of Piro country 
to the Tiwa pueblos. Somewhere in the region around present-day Bernalillo it 
linked up with the northernmost of the two trunk roads that connected the Rio 
Grande area to the towns of Cibola. The Rio Grande Trail continued upriver to 
Keres, Tewa, and northern Tiwa country. An important spur road ran to the 
Galisteo country, and an even more important one crossed Glorieta Pass to Pecos 
Pueblo. From Pecos Pueblo, roadways — precursors of the historic Santa Fe 
Trail — radiated to the Plains and its rich trade. Over Glorieta Pass went turquoise 
from the Cerrillos mines, shell and coral that originated along the Sea of Cortez 
and on the coast of California, Rio Grande Pueblo Indian pottery, and cotton goods 
from Hopi. Back across the pass came mainly bison products, but also flint cores 
and finished implements. 

In 1540 Francisco Vazquez de Coronado employed guides from Cibola-Zuni 
and followed the San Agustin trail, intersecting the Rio Grande Trail in the vicinity 
of modern Socorro. All subsequent Spanish expeditions into the upper Southwest 
came along new routes east of the Sierra Madre Occidental. A line of mining 
settlements grew up along the eastern flanks of the mountains and by 1570 had 
reached northern Chihuahua. From the Chihuahua area, Spanish slaving parties 
began to extend down the Conchos River and its tributaries to La Junta, where the 
Conchos joins the Rio Grande. There the Spanish parties contacted the nomadic 
Jumano Indians. The Jumano wintered in the warm La Junta Basin and acted as 
middlemen for trade to the Pueblo world, with two major routes running from La 


Carroll L Riley 

Junta into New Mexico. The first, already mentioned, followed the Rio Grande 
upriver to the El Paso region where it connected to the Rio Grande north-south 
trail. A second route, actually favored by thejumano since their major trade was 
with the Tompiro Pueblos, went down Toyah Creek to the Pecos River and then 
followed the Pecos upriver to Pueblo Indian country. The Spanish expeditions of 
the 1580s and early 1590s used both the Rio Grande and the Pecos River trails, 
though as far as we know they all went up or down the Conchos. 

By the mid-1 590s the Spaniards were becoming sufficiently familiar with the 
region to realize that the aboriginal route down the Conchos and up the Rio 
Grande took them in a great arc. Could they cut across that arc, going directly 
from the mining settlements of Chihuahua to the Rio Grande? Probably the first 
Spanish party to try this new route — the southern portion of the Camino 
Real — was that ofjuan de Onate in early 1 598. From the last Spanish outpost near 
modern Chihuahua, Onate was guided by western Conchos Indians over tierra 
nueva to El Paso. It is quite possible that his route followed one of the aboriginal 
networks of trails used centuries earlier by Casas Grandes traders. By Onate's time, 
however, the trail was used primarily by the nomadic inhabitants of the region. 
On arriving in the El Paso vicinity, Onate's party, like previous Spanish groups, 
followed the Rio Grande Trail. Thus, Onate and his company became the first 
Spaniards, for whom we have unequivocal evidence, to use the entire Camino Real. 

Figure 6. Dress of the Indians of New Mexico, after a J 758 map illumination by Miera y Pacheco 
(from Kiva, Cross, and Crown, National Park Service (NPS); Kessell 1979:57). 


The Pre-Spanish Camino Real 

Significant Indian use of the old north-south trail, now the upper Camino Real, 
ended within a few decades of Onate's trip. Much of the aboriginal trade material 
coming into the Southwest from the south was ceremonial in nature (for example, 
the brightly colored feathers of macaws and parrots). During the seventeenth 
century the Indian population of New Mexico was undergoing rapid acculturation, 
and native religious, political, and economic institutions were under brutal attack. 
The result was a profound disruption of the trade and exchange mechanisms of 
previous centuries. Even during the twelve or fifteen years when the Pueblo 
Indians regained their autonomy as a result of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the 
trading networks were never reestablished. Indeed, the Mexican Indians with 
whom the Pueblos traded were themselves shattered by depopulation and Spanish 
exploitation. Nor was the old Rio Grande Pueblo Indian Trail, now the New Mexico 
segment of the Spanish Camino Real, securely in Pueblo hands, even during the 
revolt period, for Spanish military raiding parties used it to strike at the heart of 
the Pueblo region. 

When the Spaniards returned in 1692-1694, Pueblo autonomy ended, except 
in the remote Hopi country. The Spanish missionaries were never able to destroy 
Pueblo Indian religion, however, and the demand for certain ceremonial goods 
continued. To meet the need for bright feathers, shells, and other ceremonial 
costume items, sporadic trade with Mexico continued, especially in the western 
part of the Pueblo world. But the Camino Real was now a Spanish highway. 

Suggested Reading 

DiPeso, Charles C. 

1975 Casa Grandes: A Fallen Trading Center of the Gran Chichimeca. Amerind 
Foundation, Dragoon, AZ, and Northland Press, Flagstaff. 

Riley, Carroll L. 

1987 The Frontier People: The Greater Southwest in the Protohistoric Period. 
University of New Mexico Press, Albquerque. 


3. At the Ends of the Roads 

in the 1 500s 

Albert H. Schroeder 

Historical documents on New Mexico in the late 1500s are limited 
to the records of Spanish exploring expeditions. What is remarkable 
is that each subsequent expedition had access to the reports of the 
previous ones, even though they were often separated by only a few 
years and by several hundred miles. Nevertheless, each expedition 
came out of Mexico with its own objectives, took various routes, and 
yielded different results. Almost all involved travel over some portion 
of what was to become known as the Camino Real, the Royal Road. 
This name was applied to any major Spanish road that was supported 
and maintained by royal funds. In the case of the road into New 
Mexico, the name was assigned after supply caravans carried royal 
supplies to the fledgling colony in the early 1600s. 

Spanish interest in New Mexico began by accident. Alvar Nunez 
Cabeza de Vaca, a survivor of a 1 527 shipwreck on Florida's Gulf coast, 
was attempting to make his way by foot to the nearest Spanish colony, 
in Mexico, when he was captured by Texas Indians. In 1534 he and 
three other captives escaped and headed southwest in an attempt to 
reach their original destination of Panuco, near present-day Tampico 
on the Mexican Gulf coast. Fearing Indians along that route, they 
decided to turn inland and go to the Pacific coast. At this point, they 
went up the Rio Grande to within about 75 miles of El Paso, turned 
west, crossed the Sierra Madre, where they met "clothed Indian 
farmers" (Opatas) en route, and finally reached Sonora. From there 
they proceeded south and met some Spaniards near the Rio Sinaloa. 
On their arrival in Mexico City in 1536, the party's reports stirred 
interest in the Indian farmers to the north. 

In 1 539 the viceroy sent Fray Marcos de Niza with a small party to 
verify Cabeza de Vaca's report about these people. They traveled by 


Albert H. Schroeder 


Santa Fe - PLACE NAME 




castano de sosa 

Figure 7. The routes ofCoronado, Chamuscado-Rodriquez, Espejo, Castano de Sosa, and Onate into 

New Mexico (from A Brief History of New Mexico, University of New Mexico Press; 

Jenkins and Schroeder 1975: 15). 


At the Ends of the Roads 

way of the west coast of Mexico; by this time the Spaniards had penetrated as far 
as northern Sinaloa, the region through which Cabeza de Vaca had returned. 
Estevan, one of the companions who had escaped from the Texas Indians, 
accompanied Fray Marcos. He went north in advance of the main party through 
eastern Arizona; Fray Marcos and the remainder of the expedition followed on the 
basis of reports sent back by Estevan. Estevan traveled as far as the Zuni pueblos, 
where he was killed. At this point Marcos and the rest of the expedition returned 
to Mexico City. Although they had passed to the west of the Opata Indians 
reported by Cabeza de Vaca, their journey did document another group of farmers 
at Zuni. The subsequent report further increased interest in these people to the 

Later the same year, Francisco Vazquez de Coronado sent Melchoir Diaz and 
Juan de Zaldfvar to verify the previous expedition's reports. Their party 
approached the junction of the Salt and San Pedro rivers in Arizona when winter 
weather caused them to turn back. On hearing the report of this advance scouting 
party, Coronado, who had already assembled an army for the journey north, began 
to have some doubts about Fray Marcos's account. The viceroy was attracted by 
the lure of riches and territorial expansion, however, and ordered Coronado to 
move out. Accompanied by 292 men, 1 300 Indian allies, a few friars, 1 000 horses, 
and 600 pack animals, plus supplies, Coronado left his staging area in northern 
Mexico in 1540. Fray Marcos guided them as far as Zuni, but Coronado and his 
army were disappointed by the inadequacy of his information and sent him back 
to Mexico City. 

After ordering an exploratory group to the west, where they would be the 
first Spaniards meet the Hopis and see the Grand Canyon, Coronado sent his army 
to the Tiguex province (now the Albuquerque-Bernalillo metropolitan area) while 
he and a small party cut southeast across country from Zuni to the Rio Grande. 
Coronado reached the Rio Grande in the vicinity of Socorro and then went upriver 
to rejoin the army, journeying along the northern stretch of the future Camino 
Real. From Tiguex he explored east to the Big Bend of the Arkansas River in Kansas. 
Shortly after his return to the Rio Grande, he and his army went back to Mexico 
by the same way it entered, leaving a friar and a few clerical brothers behind. 

As a result of clashes with the Zunis and with Indians in the Sonora region, as 
well as at Pecos Pueblo and with a number of Tiwas in the Bernalillo area, plus the 
failure of the anticipated riches to materialize, interest in this northern frontier 
waned. The reports did provide the first record ofvarious groups of Indians in the 
Southwest, however. 


Albert H. Schroeder 

Almost 40 years later, after the Spaniards had advanced northward on the east 
side of the Sierra Madre to the mineral deposits near Santa Barbara in southern 
Chihuahua, interest surfaced again. While serving in this area, Fray Agustfn 
Rodriguez heard stories from slavers of settled people to the north. He received 
permission from the viceroy to investigate. In 1581, Captain Francisco 
Chamuscado and a small party of soldiers traveled north with him byway of the 
Conchos River and the Rio Grande. After they arrived at the latter junction, 
informants told them about Cabeza de Vaca's journey through the region and also 
about Indian farmers who could be reached by turning west and travelling several 
days up the Rio Grande. These Indians were presumably the same ones that were 
reported by Cabeza de Vaca. Apparently they misunderstood their informants, 
because instead of turning west they continued up the Rio Grande. From the El 
Paso area to the Bernalillo-Santo Domingo area they were the first Europeans to 
traverse the future Camino Real, though they did not go beyond Santa Domingo. 
Instead they went east onto the Plains to the upper Canadian River, then west to 
Zuni and finally back to the Rio Grande, which they followed south to the Conchos 
River and then to Santa Barbara. They had encountered the same people as 
Coronado. The reports of this entrada (entry or expedition) provided considerable 
information on the size of each pueblo they visited as well as some population 
figures. One padre was killed, but two others were left behind among the Tiwas 
of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo area, where Coronado had had considerable trouble 
at some of the pueblos. 

Francisco Vazquez de Coronado (from Kiva, Cross, and, Crown, NPS; Kessell 1979:22). 


At the Ends of the Roads 

Figure 8. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, drawn by Jose Cisneros 
(from Riders across the Century, Texas Western Press, UTEP). 


Albert H. Schroeder 

In 1582 Antonio de Espejo led a small group north from the same area 
(southern Chihuahua) to ascertain what had happened to the two friars who had 
remained behind. He retraced Fray Agustin's route to the Tiwa country, where he 
learned of the friars' martyrdom. Though he did not travel north of the Tiwas, he 
went west to the Zuni pueblos, where he found a few Mexican Indians who had 
remained after Coronado had departed. Espejo continued west to the Hopi 
pueblos and south into the Verde Valley, where he examined mineral deposits. He 
then returned east, had a brief encounter with some Apaches near Acoma, and 
went on to Pecos Pueblo where he met with some resistance but managed to 
capture one Indian, whom he took back to Mexico so others could learn the 
language. Unlike the others, Espejo returned to Mexico byway of the Pecos River 
and the lower Rio Grande to the Conchos River and on to Santa Barbara. The major 
result of this entrada was a rekindled interest in mineral deposits. Also, by this 
time the Spaniards were beginning to recognize linguistic groups among the 
Pueblo Indians. 

In 1590, at the mining town of Almaden on the northern frontier, Gaspar 
Castano de Sosa also heard slavers' stories of people to the north. He planned to 
relocate the mining camp of 1 60-1 70 people to New Mexico, and he and his party, 
the first to use carts on a journey into New Mexico, started north before obtaining 
permission. Instead of taking the usual route via the Conchos and Rio Grande, 
they traveled north by way of Espejo's return route along the Pecos River. They 
left in July 1590, arriving at Pecos where first his advance scouts and later his full 
party ran into armed resistance. This entrada was the first since Coronado's to 
travel among the Tewas; they also journeyed into Northern Tiwa country as far as 
the pueblo of Picurfs and spent time among the Keresans along the Galisteo. While 
at San Marcos Pueblo, Castano examined nearby mineral deposits and found silver 
ore. When he returned from the Tiwas to his main camp at Santo Domingo, Juan 
Morlete, a political foe at Almaden who had followed Castano's trail up the Pecos, 
arrested him for organizing and leading an unauthorized expedition. Morlete led 
the colonists back to Mexico by way of the Rio Grande. It is assumed that he 
continued down the river to the Conchos on the return to Santa Barbara. The 
primary results of this aborted attempt at colonization included a detailed 
description of Pecos Pueblo, documentation of mineral finds, the recording of 
surplus crops grown by irrigation by the Tewas, and a report that Castano had 
obtained the obedience of each pueblo in the name of the king. 

Another venture that lacked viceregal permission was that of Antonio 
Gutierrez de Umana and Francisco de Leyba y Bonilla, who recruited men to join 
them and an Indian named Jusepe on a trip to New Mexico in 1595. Their route, 
though not known, was probably by way of the Conchos and Rio Grande. They 


At the Ends of the Roads 

spent considerable time at San Ildefonso Pueblo and then, via Pecos Pueblo, went 
onto the Plains. After reaching a large settlement, believed to be somewhere in 
Kansas, they continued ten days to another river (the Missouri?), where Leyba 
killed Gutierrez. Jusepe and five others fled but were captured by Plains Indians 
and later were held by Apaches for about a year. Jusepe escaped and was able to 
reach Pecos Pueblo, where he learned of the 1598 arrival of the Spanish colonists. 
He went to San Juan Pueblo, Juan de Onate's headquarters, and reported on the 
entire journey in 1599. 

Ohate was the first Spaniard to traverse the full length of what was to become 
El Camino Real from the Santa Barbara-Parral region to San Juan Pueblo north of 
Santa Fe. Instead of following the Conchos-Rio Grande route, he led his colonists 
north-northwest overland and reached the Rio Grande about 25 miles south of El 
Paso. In going through the pass, his party observed the tracks of Castano's carts 
where they had crossed the river in 1591 on their return to Mexico with Morlete. 
Onate arrived at San Juan Pueblo in August 1598. Enroute, in the Santo Domingo 
area, he met two of Castano's Indian guides, who had remained in New Mexico. 
As a result of Castano's entrada, Onate knew exactly where he was going. He 
passed by the unfriendly Tiwa villages of the Albuquerque-Bernalillo region and 
continued through the Keres country to settle among the Tewas because Castano 
had reported that these people were irrigation farmers with surplus crops whose 
pueblos had given their obedience to the king. 

The historical links between these expeditions of the late 1500s are clear. 
Although several routes were followed, the Santa Barbara or Parral to Rio Grande 
route proved to be the most practical and laid the basis for the Camino Real. 

Suggested Reading 

Schroeder, Albert H. 

1979 Pueblos Abandoned in Historic Times. In Southwest, edited by Alfonso 
Ortiz. Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 9, pp. 236-254. Smithsonian 
Institution, Washington, D.C. 


4. Opening the 
Camino Real 

Marc Simmons 

During the Spanish colonial years, New Mexico was tied to the 
Euroamerican world by a single thoroughfare that descended the Rio 
Grande valley from Santa Fe, dropped through the natural gate at El 
Paso, and wended its way via the provinces of the old viceroyalty of 
New Spain to Mexico City, 1200 miles to the south. 

This artery of trade and commerce was known as the Camino Real, 
which meant the Royal Road or the King's Highway. Actually, the term 
was applied to main government roads in both Spain and the New 
World colonies. The best-publicized Camino Real was the one 
established in the eighteenth century that ran up the coasts and valleys 
of California and connected the beautiful string of Franciscan missions. 

Informally, the residents of the viceregal capital spoke of New 
Mexico's Camino Real as "the road to the interior" (el camino de tierra 
adentro). Of the great highways leading north, this was the oldest, 
having been extended by segments throughout the sixteenth century. 
For a time it also enjoyed the distinction of being the longest European 
road in North America. 

By 1595 the Camino Real had been pushed as far as Santa Barbara, 
a mining outpost in southern Chihuahua (then called Nueva Vizcaya). 
This community was well positioned to become the gateway to New 
Mexico, as soon as a man was selected to colonize that distant land. 

The person who received the royal nod later in that year was Don 
Juan de Onate, the son of a wealthy silver baron in the mining city of 
Zacatecas. He had participated in military campaigns against the 
Chichimec Indians and had learned the ropes of administration in the 


Marc Simmons 

Figure 9. Juan de Onate, drawn by Jose Cisneros 
(from Riders across the Century, Texas Western Press, IfTEP). 


Opening the Camino Real 

management of silver mines. In short, he qualified as an able soldier and frontier 

Onate received the title of governor and a contract to settle New Mexico 
during September of 1595; however, numerous problems delayed his expedition 
until early in 1598. To a blare of trumpets and the flutter of silken banners, he 
finally got under way, leading 1 29 soldiers, their families and servants, a huge cart 
train that stretched almost two miles, and a vast herd of livestock. 

This impressive cavalcade struck a northward course from Santa Barbara that 
took it across the Chihuahua desert toward a rendezvous with the Rio Grande at 
El Paso. Since previous explorers had followed routes that lay far to the east or 
west, Onate was, in effect, blazing a new trail. Indeed, he was adding one more 
leg, the final appendage to the historic Camino Real. 

To locate the best route, Onate sent his young nephew Vicente de Zaldivar 
ahead with a scouting party. After getting lost, experiencing difficulties with 
Indians, and suffering from hunger and thirst, the Spaniards eventually found the 
river and then promptly returned to the expedition with the news. Onate guided 
his caravan through a vast field of sand dunes named Los Medanos, which even 
today awe travelers who drive south from Ciudad Juarez, and he reached El Paso 
Valley in April during good weather. 

Here Onate conducted a formal ceremony, taking possession of the land in 
the name of His Majesty, for he considered this place as the beginning of his New 
Mexico jurisdiction. After an open-air religious service and a feast offish from the 
river, the Spaniards concluded with a dramatic play written for the occasion by 
Captain Marcos Farfan de los Godos. 

The Spaniards and their native guides, servants, and families now began the 
ascent of the valley of the Rio Grande, or the Rio del Norte as they were in the 
habit of calling it. The cart tracks continued to mark the route of the Camino Real, 
the new road all succeeding travelers would follow. Onate selected and named 
each campsite, or paraje, and these camps later appeared on Spanish maps. 

As they moved up the Mesilla Valley (below and above the future site of Las 
Cruces), the caravan experienced a series of small tragedies. A baby died and was 
buried on the side of the trail, two horses got into the river and drowned, and 
some valuable oxen strayed and were lost. Then on May 21, near the upper end 
of the valley, one of Onate's officers died: sixty-year-old gray-headed Pedro 
Robledo. The official log gives no reason for his death, but we have to suppose 


Marc Simmons 

that the rigors of the journey must have been a contributing factor. He left four 
stalwart sons who went on to participate in the founding of New Mexico. 

Appropriately, Governor Onate named the campsite containing the new grave 
the Paraje de Robledo, and it was known by this name until the end of the colonial 
era. Just beyond that place the Rio Grande makes its long flat bend to the west, 
cutting through rough country as it skirts two mountain ranges. Onate elected to 
leave the river with an advance scouting unit and bear due north to designate a 
path for the cumbersome cart train. He rode up a level and waterless plain that 
unfolded like a dove-colored ribbon for 90 miles between parallel chains of sierras. 

The ten or more parajes that Onate designated on this portion of the Camino 
Real were deficient in all three of the common necessities required of a good 
camp — water, firewood, and grass for grazing. Onate, as well as every overlander 
who came after him, made a careful point of getting through the dreaded desert 
as swiftly as possible. At its north end, the governor rejoined the Rio Grande at a 
point named the Paraje de Fray Cristobal, after his cousin, Cristobal de Salazar, 
who was a missionary with the expedition. 

Continuing upriver, Onate and his followers entered the first villages of the 
Pueblo Indians, some of whom fled at his approach while others demonstrated a 
restrained friendliness. At the adobe community of Teypana the headman 
provided the hungry newcomers with an abundance of corn, whereupon Onate 
christened the place Socorro (Succor or Assistance) in gratitude for the aid he had 


Juan de Onate (from Kiva.Cross, and Crown, NPS; Kessell 1979:80). 


Opening the Camino Real 

At Santo Domingo Pueblo, situated 35 miles north of modern Albuquerque, 
the governor held a council on July 7 with Indians from the surrounding country. 
In a ceremony they must have poorly understood, the native leaders swore 
allegiance to the Spanish Crown and the Church. From there, Onate's party 
commenced the last leg of the trip. Across an open plain, just past Santo Domingo, 
rose a 900-foot volcanic escarpment that became known afterward as La Bajada. 
Although a narrow switchback trail was passable by horse, it was no route for a 
cart caravan. Therefore, Onate issued orders that would send the main expedition, 
still following at some distance, on a detour to the east. 

Byjuly 1 1 , Governor Ohate and his companions had reached the Tewa pueblo 
of Caypa, or San Juan as they renamed it. Here he determined to establish his 
military headquarters and the capital of his grandly proclaimed Kingdom of New 
Mexico. According to tradition he selected this location in the Espanola Valley 
because it was well-placed in the center of his realm and because the Indians, since 
Coronado's day a half century before, had shown unusual hospitality toward 
Spaniards. On August 1 8 the body of colonists with their carts and livestock finally 
arrived at San Juan, thus completing an epic march that had lasted more than six 

A short time later, Onate moved his settlers to the west bank of the Rio Grande 
and founded the first formal European municipality west of the Mississippi, the 
Villa of San Gabriel. For the next decade it remained the official terminus of the 
far-flung Camino Real. Then, with the establishment of Santa Fe around 1610 as 
the new capital and main population center, the end of the King's Highway shifted 
to the plaza there. 

By that time, Juan de Onate had resigned as governor of New Mexico and 
departed for his old home in Zacatecas. But he left behind a well-marked road as 
a monument to his pioneering achievement. Although history has thus far 
neglected to so honor him, Onate unquestionably deserves to be remembered as 
"The Father of the Camino Real." 


Marc Simmons 

Suggested Reading 

Moorhead, Max L. 

1958 New Mexico's Royal Road: Trade and Travel on the Chihuahua Trail. 
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 

Simmons, Marc 

1991 The Last Conquistador: Juan de Ohate. University of Oklahoma Press, 


5. North from Mexico, 
Inland and Beyond 

El Camino Real 

Thomas E. Chavez 

When Christopher Columbus sailed from the small Andalucian port 
of Palos in August of 1492, he initially traveled southwest along a 
known trade route off the African coast. His destination was the Canary 
Islands. There was nothing new or especially eventful about this first 
leg of his trip. Sailors from every maritime country in Europe knew of 
or had sailed this route to trade with people living farther south on the 
West African coast (Dunn and Kelly 1989:19; Fagg 1977:65; Morrison 
1974:54). The real adventure began on September 6 when Columbus 
departed from the Canaries to demonstrate his theory that the 
lucrative Oriental trade could be reached by sailing west. Thirty-five 
days later a member of his squadron sighted land in what is today the 
Bahamas (Dunn and Kelly 1989:27; Fagg 1977:65). 

Some forty-nine years later another Spanish adventurer left a base 
camp and traveled into the unknown. Francisco Vasquez de Coronado 
left his camp, an Indian village he and his soldiers had usurped near 
present-day Bernalillo, New Mexico, to travel onto the Great Plains. 
After an identical thirty-five days he realized that he had been 
misguided by his Indian informants, so he stopped to confer with his 
lieutenants. He decided to send the majority of the expedition back to 
the Rio Grande and take thirty of his healthiest and best-equipped 
horsemen in a different direction — north into present-day Kansas and 
perhaps as far as Missouri (Winship 1990:50-53). The fact that both of 
these explorers embarked on the important parts of their respective 
journeys from places distant from their actual home bases links the 
lesser-known with the well-known journey and hints at a very special 
reason for the Spanish entry into New Mexico and, therefore, a 
different and previously unemphasized aspect of the trail as well as the 


Thomas E. Chavez 

The Camino Real is the trail over which people and supplies traveled to New 
Mexico. It was primarily a commercial route that, centuries later, eventually 
connected with the Santa Fe Trail. There is no question that the trail was a route 
for commerce, especially in the nineteenth century. But, like that early, 
well-traveled sea route from Europe to the Canary Islands, the Camino Real had 
another purpose — further exploration. 

The trail's very existence, dating from the sixteenth century, counters 
historian Walter Prescott Webb's arguments that Spaniards did not settle the 
Plains because they could not cope with the harsh conditions (Webb 1 931 :85-89). 
Those same Spaniards had to cope with land much harsher than the Plains just to 
get to New Mexico, the launching point for a thorough exploration of the region. 
It was the lack of an adequate technology that prevented them or anyone else from 
permanently settling on the Plains until the second half of the nineteenth century 
(cf.Webb 1931:96-97). 

Before the end of the sixteenth century a number of expeditions had traveled 
from north-central Mexico through the area encompassing the modern Mexican 

Figure 10. A sixteenth-century map of New Spain west and north of Mexico City 

(Sevilla, Spain; Archivo General des Indios, Torres Lanzas, Mexico, 560; 

from Kiva, Cross, and Crown, NPS; Kessell 1979:unnumbered page). 


North from Mexico 

states of Durango and Chihuahua (then called Nueva Vizcaya) to El Paso del Norte 
(present-day Ciudad Juarez) and from there along the Rio Grande corridor into 
northern New Mexico. This trail would become the Camino Real, later the 
Chihuahua Trail. It was the trail along which Juan de Onate led New Mexico's first 
permanent Spanish settlers in 1598. 

With the arrival of those first Spaniards, New Mexico became an inland pocket 
of European settlement: an island distant from the sea, from navigable rivers, and 
from Spanish civilization. It was a settlement unique in the annals of European 
New World expansion for that epoch. 

Part of the motivation for the settlement of New Mexico was further 
exploration of the continent, especially in search of the Straights of Anion, the 
Northwest Passage, a hypothetical waterway cutting through the continent and 
connecting the Atlantic with the Pacific. Francis Drake, an English captain preying 
on Spanish New World possessions, had mysteriously appeared on the West Coast. 
Surely, thought Spanish officialdom, he had discovered the illusive straights! 

Shortly thereafter, Onate received instructions to search for the waterway and 
then to secure the best port against all foreign, meaning European, intrusion. He 
was to report to the viceroy as soon as he found the passage and "give an accurate 
report of the configuration of the coast and the capacity of each harbor" (Hammond 
and Rey 1953:67). Subsequent governors were certainly also aware of this goal. 

Even as late as the middle of the eighteenth century, New Mexico's great 
cartographer Bernardo Miera y Pacheco placed a great inland river, called the Rio 
Santa Buenaventura, into the poorly known region to the north; he pictured it 
originating somewhere to the northwest of New Mexico and emptying into the 
Pacific Ocean. The river even had a large city named Tiquex on its shores. Thus 
an official expedition led by Franciscan priests and guided by Miera y Pacheco 
headed out in that direction in 1 776. Among other things, they were to find a route 
that connected New Mexico to the new settlement at Monterey, California (Chavez 

New Mexico became Spain's Canary Islands, a base from which the interior of 
North America could be explored. La tierra incognita, the unknown land, posed 
problems and danger but not more so than the sea. Still, it was a place from which 
the explorers might not return. 

New life forms, peoples, and knowledge would be garnered from this inland 
experience. By the downfall of the Spanish empire in the first quarter of the 


Thomas E. Chavez 

nineteenth century, Spaniards and their cultural as well as biological descendants 
had explored and named every river between Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and 
California. Unlike their European counterparts, they continued their tradition of 
maritime exploration, but on land. They did not hesitate to move away from the 
major waterways and sea shores. Their desire to satisfy their curiosity and the 
drive to explore inland have mostly been overlooked by historians. 

Initially, experienced seafarers traversed the Camino Real and set up their 
base camp in New Mexico. They ventured off their "island" to explore the Great 
Plains, which they likened to their previous experiences. A survey of the many 
sixteenth- and seventeenth-century expeditions' records reveals the explorers' 
background, for they described the Plains in maritime terms. For example, the 
Plains were so vast that "it is as if one were traveling on the sea"; the buffalo were 
so large they resembled "ships at sea," and so tiumerous they only could be 
compared to "the fish at sea" (Chavez 1 992). Even the journals of these expeditions 
were strikingly similar to the journals of the early sea-going voyages. New Mexico 
became an integral part of the race to fulfill Columbus's dream. The Camino Real 
became the route that opened up the next step — exploration for the Straights of 
Anion, a passage to the Orient. 

Looking for the Northwest Passage was not unique. In this the Spanish were 
no different than their European competitors. England, the "mother" country of 
the United States, sought to beat Spain to the Orient by locating the water passage. 
The United States inherited that goal and, after independence, joined the race. 
President Thomas Jefferson sent out Meriwether Lewis and George Rogers Clark 
to learn how much of an impediment the continent was to getting to the Orient. 
If possible, they were to see if they could cross the continent on water. Not until 
President James K. Polk successfully concluded a costly war with Mexico did the 
United States gain a geographical advantage over the rest of Europe for the West 
Indies trade. He secured the West Coast ports of San Diego and San Francisco. 
Thus, not until the nineteenth century did the United States fulfill Columbus's plan. 
Even then, part of the strategy necessitated securing New Mexico and its 
connection to the south, the Chihuahua Trail. 

As exploration continued, New Mexico became a home rather than just a base 
camp. It was a unique European settlement in the middle of the continent, situated 
in the crosshairs of the expansion of two New World European cultures. Coming 
from the east were primarily the English, who settled on the coast, and in a period 
of two and one-half centuries their early colonies became a transcontinental world 
power. In the south were primarily Spaniards, who were moving northward into 
what would become the United States. The members of these two European 


North from Mexico 


Cz\t&\ 6 


Partial translation: 
Don Juan de Onate passed by here on 
16 April 1605; Graffito by Spanish 
travelers, El Morro National Monument, 
near Zuni, New Mexico. 

cultures had the same experiences as they moved across the continent. They had 
to learn to live in the wilderness, and they encountered new people, plants, and 
animals. They continuously experienced situations unique to the new frontier, 
including discoveries of minerals, migrations, Indian wars, engagements with 
other Europeans, and challenges of the topography and the environment. In the 
process, these Europeans became American, and eventually they met in the 
southwestern United States. The re-encounter of these two Old World rivalries, 
the Protestant leader of the Reformation (England) and the Catholic leader of the 
Counter-Reformation (Spain), is one of the most significant events in North 
American history. The hub of this meeting was in northern New Mexico, and it 
could not have happened if the long-established Camino Real had not been there 
and provided a connecting point for the upstart Santa Fe Trail. The two trails 
became the veins through which the cultural lifeblood of both peoples flowed. 

All this history speaks to our country's heritage and how that inheritance has 
been molded by centuries-old goals and rivalries (Garcia Carcel and Mateo Bretos 
1990; Sanchez n.d.). The Camino Real is important beyond its longevity; it hints 
at and speaks to a much more important picture. It also raises questions. For 
example, why did the people who traveled up the trail treat the native Americans 
they encountered so differently than their eastern counterparts did, in spite of the 
Indian rebellion that forced the Spaniards out of New Mexico for thirteen years? 
The Spanish survivors took the old trail south and returned, reinforced, on the 
same route. Yet more Indian tribes in northern New Mexico today inhabit land on 


Thomas E. Chavez 

which they were located around the time of European contact than in the whole 
eastern half of the United States. The study of the Camino Real and all that it 
represents can teach us about cultural conflict, tolerance, and survival. 

The history of the Camino Real, and of the subsequent Santa Fe Trail, teaches 
us about lifestyles and values, specifically the progress of technology and its effect 
on tradition. They hint of a dichotomy about which the great American historian 
Henry Adams wrote, referring to it as the virgin or Old World and the dynamo or 
the modern era (Adams 1931:379-390). Henry Adams never visited New Mexico, 
but to this day we can see his model in action, for the Camino Real represents the 
virgin, and the Santa Fe Trail, the dynamo — and certainly, each exhibits a little of 
the other's character. Although Adams never made the connection between the 
ever-changing technical world and the encounter of cultures, this, too, is evident 
from knowledge of the Camino, for history counters the notion that much of what 
is wrong in modern times is a problem of cultural conflict. 

The Camino Real, begun in 1598, is still vibrant, perhaps about to become 
more so. It is a living symbol of Old World life and New World adjustments. The 
old trail has contributed to our many cultures and permeated our lives in ways 
that we have not even imagined. The trail is an important piece to the large mosaic 
that is today's society. 


1. Piano de Nuevo Mexico por Bernardo Miera y Pacheco (ca. 1750). Original in 
the collections of the Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe. 

Suggested Reading 

Chavez, Thomas E. 

1992 The Quest for Quivira: Spanish Exploration on the Plains from 1540 to 1821. 
Southwest Parks Association, Tucson. 


6. Seventeenth-Century 
Mission Trade on the 
Camino Real 

James E. Ivey 

The missions of New Mexico were part of Spanish Franciscan 
establishments forming a network that covered most of the Western 
Hemisphere from South America to the American Southeast and 
Southwest. They were linked to the rest of Nueva Espana by wagon 
trains moving up and down the Camino Real from Santa Fe to the Santa 
Barbara-Parral area of Nueva Vizcaya and ultimately to Mexico City. 
The Camino Real and its supply trains formed the principal artery for 
New Mexico. Along it flowed goods, personnel, and information that 
kept not only the missions but the province itself alive. Almost every 
item or furnishing in the missions was brought to them along the roads 
from Mexico City. This support, however, was only enough for the 
minimum operation of the missions. The executives of the Franciscan 
network expected each mission to contribute to its own support as 
much as it could, and New Mexico missions purchased many necessities 
and luxury items with the income from the sale of their surplus corn, 
sheep, cattle, and woven goods, and the hides, nuts, and salt that the 
Indians collected under the direction of the missionaries and shipped 
to markets in Nueva Vizcaya and Mexico City. 

Because the wagon trains were necessary for the survival of the 
missions, the Franciscans operated them with great efficiency. The 
supply caravan reached New Mexico about every three years 
throughout the seventeenth century. During the period from 1600 to 
1629 ten dispatches arrived in New Mexico at intervals of between two 
and four years. From 1631 through the 1670s the dispatches arrived 
regularly every three years (Ayer 1916:14-15). 

In 1631, the Franciscans and the government of New Spain 
arranged a contract standardizing the arrangements for the supply 
trains to New Mexico (Scholes 1930). The contract clearly described 


James E. Ivey 

the typical caravan and the usual procedure followed by the supply system. The 
assembly of a supply train began with an official letter brought by the wagons 
returning from New Mexico, outlining the needs of the missionaries for the 
upcoming triennium. To this the Franciscans in Mexico City added the 
requirements of any new missionaries to be sent with the next dispatch, including 
both the supplies for the journey and the initial goods needed to establish a 
mission. The necessary goods were then purchased from local suppliers in Mexico 
City. 3 

Prior to 1631, an agent of the viceroy purchased the supplies at auction as 
they became available and turned them over to the Franciscans. The vagaries of 
this system resulted in delays and uncertainties, however, which contributed to 
occasional four-year intervals between dispatches. Worse, the supplies were 
frequently not of good quality and the cost was sometimes excessive. 

The contract of 1631 changed this arrangement. The viceregal treasury 
transferred the total budget due the New Mexico missions to the Franciscan 
procurador-general, who then arranged for the purchase of goods from merchants 

Figure 1 1. Mission ruins at Salinas National Monument, 
photo by Mark Nohl, New Mexico Magazine. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

and suppliers, usually in Mexico City. This method enabled purchase of the goods 
in a timely manner and at minimum cost. In addition, the treasury would purchase 
and outfit the necessary wagons, including all spare parts; hire the drivers, guards, 
and other necessary personnel; and cover the expenses of their upkeep during the 
journey to and from New Mexico. In return, the Franciscans agreed to pay for the 
upkeep of the wagons and personnel during the time they were in New Mexico 
and to keep up the full complement of mules for each wagon. After the return of 
the supply train to Mexico City, the government agreed to maintain the wagons 
and mules during the year and a half until the next dispatch, but it reserved the 
right to use them as needed during this period. 

The Wagon Train 

A supply train for the New Mexico missions usually had thirty-two wagons. It 
was under the supervision of the Franciscan procurador-general for the province 
of New Mexico, who made each round trip himself. The thirty-two wagons were 
divided into two cuadhllas or sections of sixteen wagons, each under the 
supervision of a mayordomo. The cuadrilla was divided into two subsections of 
eight wagons, with the mayordomo probably driving the lead wagon of the leading 
subsection and the trailing subsection supervised by the driver of its lead wagon. 
Each wagon had a single chirrionero, or driver, assigned to it, so thirty-two men 
were under the direction of the procurador-general. In addition, the mule train 
usually employed four Plains Indians to serve as scouts, drovers, and hunters, and 
sixteen Indian women as cooks, making a total standard wagon crew of fifty-two. 
Accompanying each wagon train was a military escort of unstated size. A second 
friar accompanied the procurador-general as his companion and assistant on the 
road. Frequently other friars, merchants, and government personnel on their way 
to New Mexico would join the train. 

A number of animals accompanied the train, some to pull the wagons and 
others to serve as food for the people making the journey. A team of eight mules 
hauled each wagon. A wagon had two teams and alternated between them, 
making sixteen mules per wagon. The entire caravan had an additional thirty-two 
mules to replace those that were lost or died on the trip, for a total of 544 mules 
on the usual train. As the meat supply for the trip, seventy-two head of cattle 
would be driven with the train. In addition, each friar on his way to New Mexico 
for the first time received ten heifers, ten sheep, and forty-eight hens. The heifers 
and sheep were the beginning of the new friars' mission herds; the chickens were 
to be eaten on the road as needed, with the survivors becoming part ofthe mission 
flock. In the dispatch of 1631 there were twenty new friars, meaning that the 
wagon train had two hundred heifers and two hundred sheep along with the 


James E. Ivey 

seventy-two head of livestock that usually accompanied it. The usual train, 
therefore, had anywhere from about six hundred to about one thousand head of 
stock moving in company with the wagons. 

Each wagon could carry a minimum of two tons of cargo. In the 1660s they 
were loaded far beyond that weight, probably hauling as much as three tons. The 
wagons were strong four-wheeled vehicles very similar in design to the wagons 
built a century later in the Conestoga Valley of Pennsylvania. This design derived 
from a general wainwright's tradition common to most of sixteenth-century 
Europe (Eggenhofer 1961:35-36, 38,90). They had iron-tired, spoked wheels and 
a canvas cover mounted on ribs above the wagon bed. Each wagon carried a supply 
of extra tires and axle parts. Other spare parts were carried by selected wagons 
in the cuadrillas. These spares included 16 axles, 150 spokes, harness parts, 144 
prefabricated mule shoes, and tools enough to rebuild a wagon on the road. 

The procurador-general outfitted the wagons not only for utility, but with an 
eye toward appropriate ceremony. The lead wagon of each cuadrilla had four small 
bells mounted on frames, one frame with two bells on each of the two lead mules. 
The entire team pulling the two lead wagons was outfitted with rebozos, blankets 
more decorative than the mantas worn as harness blankets by the other teams. 
Finally, the four lead wagons of the four subsections of the cuadrillas each flew a 
banner with the royal coat of arms, notifying all who watched the train pass that 
this was a caravan of some importance. 

These wagons averaged about ten miles per day along the unmaintained roads 
of northern Mexico. Compared with the twelve to fourteen miles per day that 
Conestoga freight wagons covered on the surfaced and maintained roads of the 
American Northeast in the early 1800s, this achievement was astonishing. The 
amount of freight hauled was equally astonishing. Later versions of the Conestoga 
used on the Santa Fe Trail from St. Louis to Santa Fe in the 1850s and 1860s were 
considered to be pushing their limits when they hauled three tons, yet the freight 
wagons of the mission supply trains carried an average of more than two tons. 
The usual train on the Santa Fe Trail in 1860 consisted of twenty-five wagons, 
carrying a total of about seventy to seventy-five tons. The mission supply train 
hauled more than eighty tons. 

The Trip to New Mexico 

As the procurador-general purchased the supplies, they were stored in a 
warehouse in Mexico City. When the full stock had been collected he sent orders 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

for the mayordomos in charge of the wagons to bring them to the warehouse and 
load them. 

Once loaded, the wagon train set out for Santa Fe, about sixteen hundred 
miles to the north along the Camino Real. The trip took about six months, 
including a two- or three-week stopover at Zacatecas, four hundred miles from 
Mexico City. In 1631 this was the last town at the edge of the empty lands of the 
north, where the wagons would refit and resupply before setting out into the 
wilderness. At a distance of nine hundred miles from Mexico City the road passed 
through a small island of civilization in the form of the mining district of Santa 
Barbara, established in 1567. By 1600, mining towns, ranch holdings, and farms 
extended for eighty miles up the valleys of the tributaries of the Rfo del Parral and 
the Rio Florida, north of Santa Barbara. The town of Parral was founded near Santa 
Barbara in 1631 and quickly grew into a major new commercial center. It became 
the principal point where merchants and Franciscans could sell goods from New 
Mexico. (Brief outlines of the history of the Santa Barbara-Parral area and the north 
road from Mexico City to Santa Fe can be found in Deeds 1991:345-365; Griffin 
1979:1-2; and Bloom 1937:209.) 

The Santa Barbara area must have been considered an oasis in the 
unpopulated northlands. It provided a welcome rest stop before the next long, 
desolate leg of the journey. After Santa Barbara, the road ran about 560 miles 
through flat, arid country inhabited largely by nomadic Indians before reaching 
Senecu on the Rio Grande, about fifteen miles south of Socorro. There the caravan 
would stop and resupply again before continuing on to ecclesiastical headquarters 
at Santo Domingo, another 125 miles north. 

Missions along the route probably received their supplies as the train passed 
through. When the wagon train arrived at Santo Domingo, the procurador divided 
the train into smaller caravans, each carrying the supplies for missions in other 
regions of the province. For example, one section headed west to Acoma, the Zuni 
missions, and on to the Hopi establishments. A second went north to Santa Fe 
and the Rio Arriba missions. A third division headed east to the Galisteo missions 
and south to the Salinas area (Scholes 1937:155). 

Once they were unloaded, the wagons returned to Santo Domingo to await 
the return of all the other wagons and the assembly of the wagon train for the trip 
back to Mexico City that would begin within a few months. For example, the 
supply train that arrived in New Mexico in 1659 reached Santo Domingo in July 
and left for the return trip to Mexico City in October. The wagons were used 


James E. Ivey 

during these four months to distribute the supplies to the missions and bring trade 
goods from the missions back to Santo Domingo (Scholes 1937:155, 163). 

The Return to Mexico City 

After a period of four to six months in New Mexico, the wagon train and the 
procurador-general began the trip back down the Camino Real to Mexico City. 
The returning wagons usually carried the products of manufacturing and collection 
carried out at each mission. The wagons were probably almost as heavily loaded 
on the return trip as they were when they arrived in New Mexico. Most of the 
trade goods on the wagons, however, were due to be unloaded and sold at Santa 
Barbara. The missions traded extensively with the Santa Barbara-Parral area, 
orienting much of their daily and yearly activity to provide for this trade. 

Among the goods shipped by the missions to the Santa Barbara area, or on to 
Mexico City, were pinon nuts, antelope hides, wheat, corn, raw wool, mantas, and 
wool stockings. In Mexico City in 1630, pinon nuts sold at wholesale for between 
fourteen and fifteen pesos the bushel, and deer hides for between five and six 
pesos (Ayer 1916:36-37). Other items in which the friars probably traded were 
cowhides, buffalo hides, and salt, needed in quantity by the mining and refining 
operations of the Santa Barbara-Parral area (Hackett 1937:188, 191-192; Scholes 
1930:395, 1937:159). Sheep and cattle were driven down the trail by the 
thousands. During one period in 1659, for example, the missions exported 
between one thousand and three thousand head of sheep (Scholes 1937:161). 

With the income from trade, the missionaries bought luxury items that they 
otherwise could not afford on their stipend from the Crown. These luxuries 
included horses, musical instruments, rich vestments for the Mass, decorations 
such as retablos (altarpieces) and gold and silver implements for the interior of the 
church, clothing for the servants, tools for the workshops, an organ for the choir 
loft, and other luxuries, such as chocolate and clothing for the friars (Hackett 
1937:188-192). 8 

Brief inventories of several of the churches of New Mexico in 1672 
demonstrate that the typical seventeenth-century retablo seen in churches in 
Mexico was also common in New Mexico. At Acoma, for example, there were three 
retablos, one behind the main altar and one behind each of the two side altars. 
The central retablo had three cuerpos, or levels. It was gilded and decorated with 
images in the form of statues and paintings "from the hand of the best artists of 
Mexico." The two side altars were similar. All three had statues of principal saints 
in the center of each. Tajique and Chilili each had three retablos made in Mexico, 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

Figure 12. Our Lady of Guadalupe, by Jose de Alzibar (1782), Santuario de Guadalupe, 
courtesy of Guadalupe Historic Foundation, Santa Fe. 


James E. Ivey 

carved figures of various saints, several paintings of saints made in Mexico, and 
many silver and gold accessories for the Mass, all probably purchased and shipped 
using mission trade money. Equally common in New Mexico were retablos 
decorated only with paintings rather than statues: the retablo of Socorro was one. 
The evidence indicates that during the seventeenth century the retablos in New 
Mexico were typical of seventeenth-century Mexico rather than of some local 
tradition. They were, in fact, made in Mexico and shipped to New Mexico. 

On the main altar itself, the major item of furnishing was the tabernacle, a 
veiled case that stood in the center of the altar table. This could be quite large: 
in 1 624 one was shipped to New Mexico that measured 6 3/4 feet high by 4 3/4 feet 
wide. It was octagonal and made of elaborately carved and gilded wood and 
decorated with oil paintings. The paintings on the retablo and hanging elsewhere 
in the church could also be large. The shipping records, for example, list a set of 
five oil paintings sent to the missions in 1624, each of which was 7 feet high and 
5 1/2 feet wide, with a gilded and ornamented frame. Hanging over the main altar 
at Socorro in 1672 was a painting of Nuestra Senora del Socorro that exceeded 1 1 
feet across. 

The retablos and other carved and painted items sent up the Camino Real to 
New Mexico were made by artisans in New Spain, principally Mexico City. Their 
provenance is explicitly stated in the descriptions of some New Mexico altars in 
1672 and substantiated by evidence in the shipping records. In 1612, for example, 
the shipment contained two tabernacles that cost 250 pesos each, made by the 
entalJador y ensamblador, the woodcarver and joiner, Andres Pablo of Mexico City. 
The same shipment contained carved and gilded crosses, carved and painted 
figures of Christ, and twelve pairs of ciriales, or carved and gilded candleholders 
on long staffs, all made by the pintor Martfn Borru, and eight oil paintings in gilded 
frames by Francisco Franco. In 161 4 the missions were shipped a large oil painting 
in a gilded frame, painted by Manuel de Chaves on the order of the viceroy, 
featuring both San Antonio de Padua and San Diego. All of this information about 
the level of expertise needed to produce the woodwork and the descriptions of 
individual items suggest that the retablos probably looked something like those 
at Cuautinchan, Puebla, or Tezcoco, made in the early 1600s and still surviving. 

Beyond the hints in the descriptions of some New Mexico churches and in the 
physical remains of the churches themselves, the shipping records offer more 
evidence about the size and construction of retablos, as well as the method used 
to get them to the province. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

Church Fittings and Supplies Shipped to New Mexico 

The tabernacles, crosses, paintings, statues, silver items, vestments, and 
retablos were packed in Mexico City, loaded on the wagons, and hauled to New 
Mexico. For example, in 1626 the shipping records list the charges for packing 
crates for a retablo being sent from Mexico City to an unnamed mission church in 
New Mexico. The retablo itself is not mentioned in the listing, implying that it 
may have been paid for by the mission receiving it (or by donation from private 

The information about the 
boxing of this retablo does not 
indicate the actual size of the 
retablo, but it implies that the 
retablo was composed of sections 
measuring about 4 feet by 5 feet; the 
principal sections were el banco del 
retablo (the base of the retablo); at 
least two cuerpos, or levels; and la 
cornixa, the cornice of the retablo. It 
had dos colunas redondas, two 
lathe-turned columns, and pilastras y 
guardapolvo del retablo, pilasters and 
a canopy (a rooflike projection at the 
top of the retablo). The recuadros, or 
painted panels, were about 2 feet 
square. The retablo had a large caja, 
or niche, about 5 feet by just under 
3 feet by about 1 1/2 feet deep for an 
image of the Virgin. The statue of 
the Virgin, also shipped in a packing 
case, was about 3 feet tall. The caja 
rested on a pedestal about 1 1/2 feet 
across and 1 1/2 feet high. 

Obviously this retablo was 
"prefabricated," probably made to fit 
a particular space with the pieces 
preassembled into components, 
packed, and sent to New Mexico 
where a local artisan or the 
missionary himself carried out the 

Figure 13. San Antonio, photo by Margery 

Denton, courtesy of Museum of International 

Folk Art (M01FA), Santa Fe. 


James E. Ivey 

final assembly. The fact that persons with enough skill lived in New Mexico is 
indicated by various descriptions of altar furnishings, which include several locally 
carved picture frames. Further evidence of woodworking skill in the province can 
be seen in the intricately joined and carved choir loft beams of San Buenaventura 
at Las Humanas, the railings at Hawikuh, and the bench found in the porterfa of 
Abo, all of which appear to have been made locally. 

In addition to the major fittings of the church, each missionaiy received one 
standard-issue, 200-pound bell in the founding supplies for his mission. Most of 
them were virtually identical bronze bells. The seventeenth-century Pecos and 
Aguatobi bells were cast in the same mold as the bell at Acoma made in 1710; the 
bells at the Salinas missions probably looked the same (Boyd 1964:266-269; 
Montgomery et al. 1 949:55-56, n. 9, fig. 6). The bells were usually made in Mexico 
City. For example, in 1612 the Franciscans contracted with the maestro de 
campahero, the master bellmaker, Hernan Sanchez for a number of brass items, 
including six large bells, each weighing 200 pounds. Hernan Sanchez was a 
recognized maestro in Mexico City. Among others, he made the bell called "Santa 
Maria de los Angeles" in the capital city's cathedral. 

Supplies for the Sacristy 

The missionary kept the ornamentos y alajas, the vestments and accessories, 
stored in a large cabinet in the sacristy. One example, the cabinet built into the 
sacristy of Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe of El Paso del Norte, dedicated in January 
1668, was "a handsome chest of drawers of fourteen divisions, as elaborate as if 
it had been made in Mexico City" (Scholes 1929:198-199). The last phrase 
indicates that the cabinet had been made in New Mexico. A typical set of 
vestments, all shipped up the Camino Real, included the following (definitions of 
vestments and accessories paraphrased from Adams and Chavez 1956:350-363): 

The amice, a linen cloth placed on the head and tied by two ribbons 

crossing over the chest and tied around the waist under the alb. 
The alb, a loose-fitting white linen gown worn over the priest's cassock 

or habit and tied at the waist with the cincture, or cord. 
The stole, a scarf of the same material as the chasuble, worn over the 

shoulders and secured in front by the cincture. 
The dalmatic, a wide-sleeved overgarment with slit sides, usually worn 

over the alb. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

The chasuble, the outer vestment of the minister at Mass. Since the color 
of the chasuble depends on the feast or season, several chasubles of 
different colors are needed: sometimes made reversible so one 
garment has two of the appropriate colors. 

The choir cope, a hooded cape worn by members of the choir. 

The sacristan's cassock, a decorated habitlike robe worn by the sacristan 
when he assists the minister during Mass. 

The maniple, a long strip of cloth worn over the left arm during Mass. 

The surplice, a loose white outer vestment, knee length, with wide 

Accessories were any items used during the various services through the year. 
They included a number of articles made of fabric: 

The altar cloths, three long linen cloths for the table of the main altar on 

which Mass is celebrated. Other altar cloths were undoubtedly 

needed for the side altars. 
The frontal, the cloth used as the front facing or decorative curtain of an 

altar table, usually of the same color and material as the chasuble 

worn on a given occasion. 
The canopy, a portable cloth covering, carried on four poles, one at each 

corner, used to protect special items during processions. 
The cross sheath, a sleevelike cylinder of fine cloth tied onto a 

processional cross, hanging from the base of the cross and covering 

the shaft of the staff. The Spanish sheath had a cylindrical frame. 
The pall, a cloth used to cover the chalice during Mass. 
The purificator, a linen cloth folded to form a small narrow towel, used 

to clean and dry the chalice after the Communion. 
The corporal, a square piece of cloth used with the chalice during Mass. 
The banner, a flag or pennant, usually hanging down vertically from a 

crosspiece on a staff, carried during processions. 
Towels, sometimes decorated, used by the minister after washing his 

hands in preparation for the Mass. 

These items of cloth were made of a variety of materials and decorated in 
several ways. The chasuble and other vestments could be of Rouen, brocatel, 
damask, or lame. Rouen was a kind of linen, usually made in Rouen, France. The 
name became generic, so eventually any linen cloth made in the same way was 
called by that name. Brocatel was a heavy fabric with a very pronounced raised 
design woven into its surface. It was usually made of silk with wool or cotton. 
Damask was a rich fabric with a wavy decorative pattern resembling the marks on 


James E. Ivey 

Figure 14. La Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe del Ciudad Juarez, 
by Richard H. Kern (1850), courtesy of William S. Reese. 

Damascus steel, and it could be made of cotton, silk, linen, or wool. Lame was a 
fabric worked with metallic threads, either gold or silver. Watered lame had a 
wavy or watermarked pattern, like damask, in addition to the metallic threads. 

Decoration could be by embroidery, galloon, point lace, or drawn work. 
Embroidery was the addition of decorative figures or patterns by needlework. 
Galloon was a narrow band or braid added to the edge of fabric, and made of lace, 
embroidery, or metallic thread. Point lace was lace made by needlepoint, 
following a pattern. Drawn work was fabric worked into patterns by pulling up 
individual threads of the weave, or by drawing selected threads out of the fabric 
altogether, leaving a lacelike pattern. 

The accessories included a number of silver vessels: 

The chalice, the communion cup, covered with the corporal and pall. 
The paten, a silver dish, gold-plated on top, used to carry the bread used 

at Mass. 
The dish, a silver plate on which the cruets were carried during Mass. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

The cruets, two small vessels, one for the wine and one for the water used 

at Mass. 
The thurible, or censer, a metal receptacle with a perforated lid, 

suspended from a ring by chains, for burning incense in church 

The monstrance, a highly decorated silver receptacle in the tabernacle, 

in which the consecrated bread, the Holy Eucharist or Host, was 

displayed during Mass. 
The ciborium, a goblet-shaped vessel for holding the Eucharist. 

In 1612, for example, the silversmith Miguel de Torres of Mexico City made 
seven chalices and patens for the missions of New Mexico. Each chalice and its 
paten weighed a total of 31.1 onzas, or 28.8 troy ounces. Torres charged 31.6 
pesos for the silver in each chalice and paten, plus an additional 24 pesos for 
making and gilding each one, for a total of 55.6 pesos for a chalice and paten. 

Start-up Supplies for a Church 

As part of the materials given to a friar for founding a new mission, the king 
supplied an initial set of vestments and accessories: 

One complete set of vestments, including chasuble, stole, maniple, 

frontal, and bundle of corporals 
One alb of Rouen cloth 
One surplice 

One pair of palls for the altar, made of Rouen, each 36 feet long 
One embroidered pall for the altar 
One damask pall for the altar 
Some coarse corporals 
Two cassocks of "Chinese stuff 1 
One rug for the altar steps 
Three yards of Rouen to make amices 

Each mission received additional items: 

Two choir robes of Chinese damask 

Two sets of dalmatics of Chinese damask 

One pall for the Holy Sacrament 

Three cross sheaths of velvet with gold edgings 


James E. Ivey 

Accessories usually received as starting supplies by each friar were: 

One enameled silver chalice, with gilded paten 

One cupboard for the chalice 

One small bell to sound the Sanctus 

One pair of gilded wooden processional candleholders 

One pair of brass candlesticks 

One pair of snuffing scissors 

One small chest with chrismeras, vials of baptismal oil 

One copper vessel for the Holy Water 

One tin plate with cruets 


Figure 15. Candlestick, photo by Margery Denton, courtesy ofMOIFA, Santa Fe. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

One crucifix with gilded brass handle, probably a processional cross 
One wafer box for the unconsecrated host 

Each mission also received the following: 

One ciborium 

One communion wafer iron or mold 

One brass oil lamp for the altar 

Other supplies were needed by the friar to prepare for Mass: 

Two and a half pounds of incense 

Two and a half pounds of copal, a transparent resin used as incense 

Three ounces of silk wicking to make candles 

Three pesos' worth of soap for washing the vestments 

One missal and three books of chants 

Every three years the friar received the following supplies: 

45 gallons of sacramental wine 

85 1/2 pounds of prepared candle wax 

26 gallons of lamp oil for illuminating the altar 

"In addition, things to replace vestments and things for the sacristy, and other 
necessities" would have included more incense, copal, wicking, and soap as 

Through time the friars purchased additional items for the church and sacristy, 
using the stipend and the profits from their trade down the Camino Real. Among 
these additional items were musical instruments for the choir, such as an organ, 
trumpets, oboes, and bassoons. A shipment of three sets of trumpets, three sets 
of oboes, and a bassoon was sent to the missions in 1628, at a total cost of 522 


pesos. Sets of these instruments were included as standard equipment in the 
1631 contract (Scholes 1930:103). Organs are listed as present in many of the 
missions of New Mexico by about 1640 (Scholes 1929:48). 

Another category of goods that was frequently shipped up the Camino Real 
was vestments; many missions purchased new sets of vestments of richer material 
and in a wider range of colors than those provided to them in the standard issue, 
when they could afford them. 


James E. Ivey 

For example, in 1672 at Tajique, one of the Salinas missions, the sacristy 
contained four complete sets ofvestments, including the chasuble, alb, amice, and 
stole. One set was of red watered lame and two were of Chinese damask with 
gold trimming; one of these sets was black. The fourth set was of white cloth. In 
addition to the full sets ofvestments were another twelve chasubles of damask in 
different colors. Each had a matching frontal for the altar table. There were four 
albs decorated with drawn work from the waist down, and with an 8-inch-wide 
section of point lace; another six albs without decoration; twelve amices decorated 
with drawn work; twelve altar cloths, four with drawn work and point lace; twenty 
palls, "all very rich and splendid"; twelve towels with drawn work and point lace; 
and two choir copes, one of pearl-colored Italian damask trimmed with silver 
galloon. Accessories included two silver chalices with patens, one silver thurible 
and incense boat, one silver-gilt tabernacle 1 1/2 feet high with monstrance with 
rays, and a silver dish with cruets (Scholes and Adams 1952:27-38). All these items 
were somewhat more luxurious than the basic issue sent to each new mission and 
must have been bought with the proceeds from sales of livestock and produce 
from the mission fields or provided by the Indians (Hackett 1937:254). 

Mission Workshops 

In the eighteenth century, missions had shops for carpentry, blacksmithing, 
weaving, and sometimes stoneworking. In the seventeenth century, however, 
weaving was the only craft activity that was incorporated into the buildings at the 
New Mexico missions. The other activities were apparently conducted by 
specialists located elsewhere in the province, or in the pueblo where the mission 
was located. For example, carpentry was carried out by Indians from the pueblo 
of Pecos. Their finished goods or their expertise was transported all over the 
province. The Franciscans supported these craft activities because the Indians 
produced items needed for mission activities. 

Blacksmithing may have been relatively rare in the pueblos and at the 
missions, although it must have been practiced in the civil settlements and military 
establishments. Most necessary iron items, such as hinges, nails, and tools, were 
probably shipped from Mexico. Zuni maintained a large smithy in the nineteenth 
century; whether this skill existed earlier at this pueblo is not known. The mission 
wagon trains must have needed smiths as part of their traveling staff, to take care 
of the almost certain breakdowns during the long months of travel to New Mexico. 
This expertise would surely have been made available to individual missions as 
needed. Bulk iron and steel was occasionally shipped to the missions, 
demonstrating that at least some blacksmithing was conducted for the missions. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

Some missions contained a weaving workshop, using imported looms and 
other equipment (Hackett 1937:213). It is likely that the workshop was usually 
maintained in a convento workroom, since the equipment was costly and 
replacement time would be three to six years. The missionary probably supplied 
the Indian workers with the necessary equipment and supplies through the 
mission supply system. None of this equipment is listed as part of the founding 
stock sent to a new mission, but it may have been usual to start this industry later, 
after the new mission operation was stabilized. Unless specific items are included 
in supply lists for the caravans, or the archaeological remains of loom equipment 
are discovered in the conventos, the occurrence in missions of weaving on 
imported looms cannot be proven. 

A major weaving industry existed in New Mexico during the seventeenth 
century. In 1638, for example, the weaving industry of New Mexico produced just 
under a mile of cloth for a single shipment by Governor Luis de Rosas (Bloom 
1 935:244). The missions were strongly involved in this industry, as is shown by an 
order of governor Penalosa Brizefio in 1664 in which he prohibited the 
missionaries from employing "Indian women in spinning, weaving mantas, 
stockings, or any other things" without permission from the governor (Bloom 
1927:229). The prohibition, part of the ongoing competition between the 
Franciscan establishment and civil enterprises in New Mexico in the latter half of 
the seventeenth century, indicates that these activities must have been relatively 
common in the missions. 

Luxuries were not forbidden to the Franciscans. For example, on social 
occasions chocolate was served in the same way as coffee would be today (Hackett 
1 937: 1 73; Kessell 1 979: 1 99). Some items were very expensive, such as a large clock 
purchased in 1628. It cost 450 pesos, more than the full three-year stipend for a 
missionary. It is difficult to imagine that the friars could afford this type of 
expenditure unless the income from the sales of mission products was quite good. 

Mission Storerooms 

The oficinas, or storage rooms of the convento, were an important part of the 
mission operation. They contained the produce of the friars' fields, other staples 
collected by the Indians and given to the convento, the cotton and wool to be 
made into cloth for the convento in the pueblo, and the supplies shipped to the 
mission by the triennial wagon trains. The goods brought in each shipment had 


James E. Ivey 

to last until the next arrival three years later and therefore had to be 

The Infirmary and Its Storeroom 

Fray Alonso de Benavides briefly mentions one of the principal functions of 
the convento: "Scarcely does one [of the Indians] begin to be sick before he comes 
quickly to see the Religious. . . . This is the continuous occupation of the Religious, 
treating them in their sicknesses and supplying all their necessities" (Ayer 1 91 6:33). 
Ricard (1 966), describing the hospitals established in major Indian towns in Mexico 
in the sixteenth century, states that they were not only intended "to shelter and 

care for sick natives, but also to receive and entertain travelers and passers-by 

The hospitals were, moreover, free provisioning centers, where the natives found 
everything they could want: meat, oil, wine, lard, and sugar. . ." (1966:159). 

This importance is demonstrated by the basic allotment of triennial supplies 
sent to the missions. Nearly half of the items listed in these goods are for the 
infirmary. The supplies would have been stored in the infirmary or the oficina and 
used as needed. Clothes, bedding, and bandages are part of the list: 

One shirt 

One sheet of Rouen 

One pillow 

One blanket 

Six and a half yards of coarse linen 

Medical instruments formed part of the stock renewed every three years: 

A copper cupping instrument 
A syringe 
A lancet 

These were basic tools of the healing arts of the time. 

In the seventeenth century the surgeon was usually also the barber, and the 
combination of these two activities in the infirmary is reflected in the supplies for 
the room: 

One pair of barber's scissors 

One razor 

Four pairs of razor hones 

One large brass basin, for both barbering and general use 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

The last item is familiar to many as the Golden Helmet of Mambrino. 

Medicine and medicinal items made up a large part of the supplies and would 
have required careful storage: 

Thirty-five pesos' worth of medicines 

Six and a half pounds of sweetmeats 

Twenty-five pounds of sugar 

Three ounces of saffron 

One pound of pepper 

Six ounces of cinnamon 

Ten and a half pounds of raisins 

Six pounds of almonds 

Two jugs of Campeche honey "for the entire infirmary" 

Five boxes of conserves 

Five pounds of conserves in syrup 

This list seems to include items that should be in the kitchen, such as sugar, 
pepper, cinnamon, and saffron. The attitude of seventeenth-century Franciscan 
Spaniards concerning the difference between spices and medicines is difficult to 
determine; conceivably the spices sent for the infirmary could also be used as 
medicinally effective cooking spices. 

Finally, three items of general equipment were sent every three years: 

One grindstone 

Two stills, for distilling water 

One box of loza de Puebla 


The stills were alquitaras, or alembics. An alembic was a large two-piece apparatus 
used to distill liquids or brew medicinal curatives and essences, and could be made 
of copper or ceramic. The base of the alembic was a squat cylindrical pot called 
a cucurbit. It was placed on a stove or oven. Into the cucurbit was placed the 
mixture from which the distillate was to be extracted. On top of the cucurbit and 
fitting onto it tightly sat the helm, a conical vessel with a channel or trough inside 
the rim and a spout extending from the side like a hollow handle. The evaporated 
distillate would rise from the cucurbit, condense on the inner surface of the helm, 
run down into the channel, and drip from the spout into a catch container, such 


as a pot or jar. 


James E. Ivey 

The last item in the list was a box of plates, bowls, and cups made in the city 
of Puebla. This item on the triennial shipment list is the source of virtually all the 
majolica found in small amounts in seventeenth-century New Mexico (Lister and 
Lister 1976:57). 

The Kitchen and Its Storeroom 

The "standard" kitchen in the missions appears to have been a rectangular 
room with a bench along one wall, probably for food preparation, and a large 
rectangular fireplace or hearth along another wall for cooking. Over the hearth a 
large hood was built to collect the smoke and exhaust it through a chimney. The 
hearth was lined with stone slabs, and several upright slabs partitioned it into 
sections. Some of these partitions would serve to support comales, or griddles, of 
iron, copper, ceramic, or even sandstone. 

The equipment to be found in the convento kitchen was issued to the friar as 
part of his basic allotment on his departure from Mexico City. These items were 
for general use during the trip to New Mexico but would have continued in use at 
the convento to which the friar was assigned. 

6 wooden bowls 

12 small bowls or cups, possibly made of gourd 

6 pewter plates 

2 pewter bowls 

2 barrels for water 

2 metates for grinding corn and wheat 

2 tablecloths 

24 napkins 

2 iron spoons 

1 tin grater 

3 spits, one of them large 

2 sieves 

1 frying pan 

1 comal, or griddle of copper, iron, or ceramic 

1 grinding bowl, or mortar and pestle 

In addition, each mission received the following: 

1 bronze olla 

1 bronze saucepan or kettle 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

Food and Supplies 

As part of his supplies for the trip to New Mexico, each friar received a stock 
of foodstuff to last during the journey, which lasted six to eight months. Some of 
these supplies would have lasted beyond the trip and been used in the convento. 
More important, the list shows what were considered to be staples in the colonial 
Franciscan's diet. A six- to eight-month food supply for one man included the 

52 pounds of bacon 

41 pounds of cheese 

25 pounds of dried shrimp 

54 pounds of dried haddock 

12 1/2 pounds of dried tollo (dogfish) 
6 pounds of dried oysters 

600 pounds of flour 
300 pounds of biscuits 

13 bushels of corn 

1 1/2 bushels of beans 

1/6 bushel of garbanzo beans 

1/6 bushel of lentils 

— bushel of chiles 

1/2 box of onions and garlic 

2 gallons of wine 

2 gallons of cooking oil 

5 pints of vinegar 

12 1/2 pounds of lard 
1 bushel of salt 
8 pounds of sugar 

6 pounds of raisins 

4 pounds of almonds 
4 pounds of conserves 

The last items are of interest because the restocking supplies automatically sent 
on every triennial shipment included a large quantity of sugar, raisins, almonds, 
and conserves for the infirmary, as well as four gallons of vinegar. The infirmary 
may have served as the pantry for the convento kitchen, and its stock as part of 
the convento food supply. 

Once at his new mission, the friar would depend as much as possible on local 
food supplies because the cost of shipping most foodstuffs except spices and 


James E. Ivey 

Soiudxitest-j fmnciscxH 'Missionary -fan Cent. 

Figure 16. Eighteenth-century Franciscan Missionary, drawn by Jose Cisneros 
(from Riders across the Century, Texas Western Press, UTEP. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

special items, such as raisins and almonds, would have been prohibitive. The 
mission was to be as self-supporting as possible. 

Personal Supplies 

For the trip to New Mexico, each friar received an issue of supplies to feed 
and clothe him for the duration of the trip. Most of these materials were 
apparently intended to last beyond the trip itself and formed a basic stock of 
personal equipment and supplies. The following clothing, bedding, and personal 
items were issued: 

2 pairs of shoes 
2 pairs of stockings 
2 pairs of leggings 
6 yards of Rouen 
15 yards of burlap 

1 hat and hat-box 

2 blankets 

9 yards of canvas for making mattresses 

1 traveling bag of leather or canvas for the mattress 

1 wine bottle 

1 drinking jug 

1 chest with a lock and key 

1 large brass basin 

1 hundred-weight of tallow candles 

2 brush-axes for cutting firewood 
2 tin-plated lanterns 

1 table and benches 

The tin-plated lanterns were provided for saying Mass on the road, but again would 
have been available for use in the convento after more permanent provisions were 
made. The table and benches were to be used to make a temporary altar on the 
road and in the pueblo until a permanent altar was completed, and thereafter they 
would have been available for use in the convento. 

Over the years the missionaries ordered the shipment of additional 
furnishings and luxury items for the convento, such as a large clock or chocolate 
for the friars. Other items would have been made either by the friar himself or on 
his request by local craftsmen. These items would probably have included chairs, 
a desk, a bed frame, and extra tables as needed. 

Every three years the friar received additional supplies for use in the convento: 


James E. Ivey 

8 gallons of lamp oil 

1 ream of paper 

2 blankets 

3 pairs of sandals 

2 pairs of woolen stockings 

1 friar's hat 

1 pound of domestic yarn 

1 hundred yards of sackcloth 
12 yards of Rouen 

12 yards of linen 

2 pairs of scissors 

12 awls with handles 
12 square needles 
12 coarse needles 
24 regular needles 
20 large knives 
6 common rosaries 

The last two items may have been intended for use as trade goods or gifts. Knives, 
rosaries, and rings were commonly ordered gift items in the Texas missions of the 
eighteenth century. The provision of cloth and sewing equipment rather than 
finished clothing indicates that the friar was expected to make his own garments 
or have them made locally. 

This survey of the goods and materials shipped north to the missions of New 
Mexico revals the strength of their dependence on the Camino Real trade. The 
wagon trains moving along the Camino Real provided the vital link between the 
missions and the supply and trade centers of New Spain. Without this link, the 
mission system of New Mexico would have collapsed, probably bringing down the 
civil settlement with it. The goods and raw materials shipped down the Camino 
Real to Nueva Vizcaya and on to other markets were probably not as important to 
their purchasers as the proceeds were to their suppliers, but the goods usually 
found a market. In spite of the great distance, New Mexico was kept a part of 
greater Nueva Espana by the Camino Real alone. 


1. This chapter is adapted from James E. Ivey, In the Midst of a Loneliness: The 
Architectural History of the Salinas Missions (Santa Fe: National Park Service, 1988), 
pp. 201-228. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

2. Accounts for the supply trains up to 1631, including lists of most of the goods 
carried, are in the Royal Treasury records, Archivo General de Indias (hereafter 
referred to as the AGI), Contaduna, largely in legajos 695-931 . These records are 
available in the Special Collections, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico 
as bound photostats, loose photostats, or transcripts. Hodge et al. (1 945:app. IV, 
109-124) published a translation of the 1625 account. 

3. Scholes (1930) provides a complete translation of the contract of 1631. A copy 
of the manuscript is in Biblioteca Nacional de Mexico, legajo 1, part 1, no. 9, in 
the bound photostats of the Special Collections, Zimmerman Library, University 
of New Mexico, Albuquerque. 

4. The question of the actual design of the supply wagons of the seventeenth 
century is still being debated by Southwestern historians. Much of the argument 
centers around the number of wheels on the standard freight wagon. The 
traditional view that all Mexican wagons were two-wheeled carts has so colored 
the imaginations of Americans that historians are reluctant to question it. In 
actuality, it would be a difficult technological achievement to build a two-wheeled 
cart capable of carrying three tons of cargo, and the problem of balancing the load 
over sixteen hundred miles of unimproved road would have been virtually 
impossible. For simplicity, this report assumes that the wagon structures implied 
by the equipment were, in fact, what was used. Four-wheeled wagons had long 
been common in Europe and were used in New Spain; there is no reason to suppose 
that they would be rejected for heavy freight haulage to New Mexico. 

5. Senecu was near present-day San Antonio, New Mexico, and was abandoned in 
1680. The site is presently unlocated. 

6. Archivo General y Publico, Mexico (AGM), Inquisition, Primera Audiencia de Don 
Bernardo Lopez de Mendizdbal, Ano de 1663, tomo 594, FVS typescript pp. 39-42, 

7. AGM, Inquisition, tomo 594, FVS typescript p. 190. 

8. AGM, Inquisition, tomo 594, FVS typescript pp. 39-42, 69-71. Chocolate was 
one of the luxuries the Franciscans permitted themselves. For example, a priest 
at Concepcion de Quarai, probably Fray Francisco Freitas, made chocolate for 
Nicolas de Aguilar while they were dining in the convento in around 1659; see 
Hackett 1937:173. See also Kessell 1979:199. 


James E. Ivey 

9. Biblioteca Nacional de Mexico, legajo 1 , document 34, bound photostats in the 
Special Collections, Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; 
part of this document was translated by Scholes and Adams (1952:27-38). 

10. AGI, Contaduria, legajo 726, p. 329-330. 

11. See, for example, Toussaint 1967:fig. 148. The descriptions never mention a 
retablo in the sacristy, even though some sacristies clearly had them. For example, 
the presence of somewhat elaborate sacristy altars at Abo and Hawikuh, probably 
including retablos, is indicated by beam-edged platforms built in the sacristies of 
each mission. 

12. Retablos were usually given by the king, and would have been listed in the 
treasury accounts; see Hackett 1937:72. The retablo listed here appears only in 
the form of the costs of the packing, and therefore was probably a donation by 
someone else at no cost to the crown. 

13. AGI, Contaduria, legajo 714, LBB no. 59, pp. 129-130. Five more bells of the 
same size were included in the 1625 listings; see ibid., legajo 726, p. 331. The 
other items made by Sanchez were six communion-wafer molds of brass with a 
tin wash, nine brass mortars, six chrismeras, and twelve little bells for ringing the 
Sanctus. See also Toussaint 1967:268 for a brief discussion of Hernan Sanchez. 

14. AGI, Contaduria, legajo 714, p. 138. 

15. These items and the following lists are from the supply contract of 1631 
(Scholes 1930:96-113; BNM, legajo 1, part 1, no. 9, pp. 1-15). 

1 6. In the records, some items are listed as for each two, three, or five missionaries 
and lay brothers. Apparently the intent was to have one of each item at each 

17. AGI, Contaduria, legajo 728, p. 385. 

18. In their plan and activities, New Mexico missions resemble haciendas to a 
surprising extent. Haciendas were large, centralized establishments intended to 
produce one or several variations of goods for marketing — that is, ranches or 

19. AGI, Contaduria, legajo 728, p. 381. 

20. BNM, legajo 9, p. 4. 


Seventeenth-Century Mission Trade 

21. Ivor Noel Hume found the ceramic helm of such an alembic at the farmstead 
of Martin's Hundred in Virginia, in a context dating it to ca. 1630. This helm and 
Noel Hume's discussion of it gives a good idea of the appearance and use of such 
a device in the European colonies of North America in the early seventeenth 
century; see Noel Hume 1983:101-103, fig. 11. 

22. The charred remains of a wooden bench were found in the porteria of Abo by 
Joseph Toulouse in 1938, demonstrating that such furniture was indeed used in 
the seventeenth century in the convento (Toulouse 1949:24, fig. 33, pi. 38, 39). 







7. "A Headdress of Pearls" 

Luxury Goods Imported over the 
Camino Real during the Seventeenth Century 

Cordelia Thomas Snow 

Although some historians would have us believe that life in 
seventeenth-century New Mexico was primitive at best, "characterized 
by a roughness, a lack of luxury and refinement, a crudeness, and a 
striking degree of ignorance" (Scholes 1935:99), that was not 
necessarily the case. Linked to Mexico by the Camino Real, NewMexico 
may have been a geographical frontier but it was never a "mental" 
frontier to the Spanish colonists and mission personnel who settled 
there. Both the missionization and the colonization of New Mexico 
were intended to proceed along the lines of those same efforts in 
Mexico or Peru. The goods and belongings brought to New Mexico 
were simply the goods and belongings with which the Church and 
colonists in Mexico and Spain were familiar; to those who brought 
them, they were, simply, items of everyday use. At the same time, 
possession of luxury goods served to announce the status of the 
individuals who owned them. This template, seen in both mission and 
domestic sites, was nothing more than a reflection of the times, and a 
resistance to change when they were faced with life on the frontier. 

During the Salazar inspection of Don Juan de Onate's expedition 
in 1597, most of the colonists declared only their arms, armor, 
supplies, and livestock. However, Juan Gutierrez Bocanegra also 
declared a salt shaker and silver pitcher (Hammond and Rey 1953:238). 
Capt. Alonso de Sosa declined to list his silks, clothes, silver, or jewels 
along with those of his wife, but he needed seven carts to transport 
his belongings (Hammond and Rey 1953:239)! Cristobal Lopez, a 
fencing master, brought with him two fencing foils and two shields 
(Hammond and Rey 1953:256), while Hernan Martfn brought four 
fencing foils (Hammond and Rey 1953:238). 


Cordelia Thomas Snow 

Alonso de Quesada brought with him a bed, two blankets, bedspread, sheets, 
pillows, mattress, four suits, four hats, four doublets, silk and woolen stockings, 
linen shirts, "needles, thimbles, scissors, white thread and silk threads of all colors," 
shoes of cordovan leather and calfskin, three pewter plates and a brass mortar, 
and seven books, "religious and non-religious" (Hammond and Rey 1953:252-253). 

In 1600, supplies sent to Onate included "four pounds of saffron" (Hammond 
and Rey 1953:523), an item as expensive then as now. Included in the shipment 
was a box for "Juan Guerra, the younger," which contained, among other things, 
"a damask bedspread lined with gold and silk, [valued] at 50 pesos." 

The contents of two boxes labeled for "Don Cristobal" [Onate?] were valued 
at more than 1000 pesos. The boxes contained, among other items, 

One set of trappings for a horse, including caparison and everything else, 
with very elegant stirrups, [valued at] 120 pesos. . . . One gilded sword 
and dagger with straps and belt trimmed with gold and silk ... six hats 
. . . three elegant black, for use with feathers, 50 pesos ... [a] fine brown 
hat, with braid of gold and large pearls and set with stones of various 
colors and brilliancy, at 130 pesos . . . one green damask bedspread, 
finished on both sides, with fringes of silk and gold, at 70 pesos . . . two 
pipes ofwine, 280 pesos (Hammond and Rey 1953:527). 

Antonio Conde de Herrera declared among his belongings 

seven men's suits of wool, coarse cloth (raja), and silk . . . two pairs of 
house slippers [for use at San Gabriel!] . . . three doublets . . . one of 
taffeta; five pairs of spurs . . . hankerchiefs ... a woolen field tent ... a 
camp bed . . . eight small chairs . . . one Michoacan table . . . one tub for 
washing (Hammond and Rey 1953:538-539). 

Not to be outdone, Conde de Herrera's wife, Dona Francisca Galindo, took 
nine dresses, including one of 

tawny color with a white China embroidered skirt ... a damask and velvet 
hoopskirt . . . four ruffs ... a necklace of pearls and garnets, with a large 
gold cross ... a headdress of pearls, with a gold image of our Lady ... a 
small pot and saltceller of silver with six small and one large spoons . . . 
three pairs of new clogs . . . one bedspread of crimson taffeta trimmed 
with lace; eight sheets, six pillows . . . three bolsters. . . . and many other 


"A Headdress of Pearls" 

things suitable for the adornment of women and the home (Hammond 
and Rey 1953:539-540). 

Most of the items mentioned above were perishable; however, archaeological 
evidence for luxury goods comes from such artifacts as the gilded brass buttons, 
silver chains, ivory and glass rosary beads, brass candlestick fragments, a portion 
of an incised bone plaque from a jewel box, and shards of cobalt-blue, knobbed 
drinking glasses, all recovered from San Gabriel. Gold and silver galloon, 
intricately woven silver galloon buttons, an earring with a pearl drop made of 
blown glass covered with gold leaf, and fragments of an ivory chess set have been 
recovered from the Palace of the Governors. 

In 1567, Spaniards opened trade with the Orient across the Pacific Ocean via 
the Manila galleons. Within a surprisingly short time, spices, fabrics (especially 
silks), ivory, and Chinese porcelain flooded into Mexico. Although far more 
common at the time in Mexico than in Europe, porcelain was extremely costly, 
and worth "its weight in silver," according to one observer (in Pierce 1990). More 
important, less than forty years after the Manila galleons began to cross the Pacific 
Ocean, examples of Chinese porcelains, ivories, and other materials carried by 
those ships were transported over the Camino Real from Mexico City through 
Zacatecas into New Mexico. 

Figure 17. Silver forks, photo by Margery Denton, courtesy ofMOlFA, Santa Fe. 


Cordelia Thomas Snow 

Several sherds of a Chinese porcelain vessel with a red overglaze decoration 
on the exterior and blue underglaze design on the interior were recovered from 
San Gabriel. The sherds have been dated to the reign of Chia 'Ching (1 522 to 1 566) 


during the Ming dynasty (1398-1644). Several sherds from the Palace of the 
Governors with a blue underglaze, scroll-like design were from vessels dated to 
the same period. In other words, the vessels from which those sherds came were 
heirlooms at the time of their arrival in New Mexico. Other examples of Chinese 
porcelain recovered from the Palace of the Governors include a cup with a cobalt 
blue exterior with the design of a fern leaf in gold leaf, and blue-on-white 
porcelains dated from the late Ming dynasty. 

Majolica, a soft paste ceramic with lead-tin glaze, was made in Europe and 
Mexico in imitation of Chinese porcelain. In addition to the "more common" types 

Figure 18. Majolica plate, courtesy of Centennial Museum, UTEP. 


"A Headdress of Pearls" 

of seventeenth-century majolica found in New Mexico (i.e., Fig Springs 
polychrome, Abo polychrome, and Puebla polychrome), which predate the Pueblo 
Revolt of 1680, sherds of an early form of Puebla Blue-on-white have been found 
in the Palace of the Governors. The banded designs on this type of majolica, 
tentatively named "Palacio Blue-on-white," were taken directly from kraakporselein, 
a style of Chinese porcelain made from the mid-sixteenth century to about 1650. 
Other examples of majolica recovered from San Gabriel and the Palace of the 
Governors included sherds of Spanish majolica, Hispano-moresque lusterware, and 
a rare example of a white majolica decorated with gold leaf. 

The Church was no different than the colonists in bringing to New Mexico the 
trappings with which they were familiar. In 1609 when the Crown assumed 
support for the missions in New Mexico, the mission supply service was instituted. 
On an average of every three years during the seventeenth century, huge caravans 
left Mexico City to travel over the Camino Real to Santa Fe, taking with them not 
only supplies for the missions but also settlers, mail, and periodically, a new 
governor (Scholes 1930). 

Foodstuffs, including chocolate, saffron, cinnamon, sugar, sweetmeats, 
raisins, dried shrimp, garlic, onions, chile, oysters, beans, flour, oil and vinegar 
were all shipped to New Mexico for mission personnel (Scholes 1930:100-113). In 
addition, the supply trains included such necessities for the missions as table 

Figure 19. Chocolatera (photo by Margery Denton, courtesy ofMOlFA, Santa Fe) and chocolate mixer 
(photo by Margery Denton, Spanish Colonial Arts Society, courtesy ofMOlFA, Santa Fe). 


Cordelia Thomas Snow 

cloths and napkins, boxes of loza de Puebla (majolica), brass basins, and pewter 
plates and bowls. Even more importantly, the caravans included ornaments to 
adorn the mission churches. 

Although now considerably altered in form and in name, La Conquistadora 
was brought to New Mexico by Fray Alonso de Benavides before 1630 (Chavez 

The altar in the church that served Tajique and Chilili was 

adorned with many religous paintings from New Spain . . . the sacristy 
has: A complete set of vestments of red watered lame . . . and two others 
of Chinese damask with gold trimming . . . there are twelve towels with 
drawn work and point lace. There are two silver chalices with their 
patens, a silver thurible and incense boat, and a silver-gilt tabernacle half 
a vara high with a very beautiful monstrance with rays (Scholes and Adams 

Both churches also had trumpets, flageolets (flutes), and other musical instruments 
for celebration of Mass. The church at Socorro also had 

a Holy Christ from Mechoacan . . . the making of which would cost about 
ninety pesos in this land ... a Roman painting on copper of the Virgen 
del Populo, with its ashes of roses taffeta canopy ... a carved image of 
Our Lady, with its gilded pedestal, imperial crown of silver and robes, 
with some pieces of jewelry . . . three silver chalices . . . four large carpets 
and two Turkish rugs . . . also a set of trumpets with a bassoon (Scholes 
and Adams 1952:31-34). 

The church at Acoma, described in 1672 as "one of the best ... in this 
kingdom," contained in addition to "a most excellent large organ," "a gilded retablo 
in three sections with images in the round and paintings, the handiwork of the 
best artists in Mexico" (Scholes and Adams 1952:34). Fragments of a gilded 
altarscreen were also uncovered by Joseph Toulouse in his excavations at Abo. 

There are numerous additional examples of personal and church wealth in the 
province during the seventeenth century. However, the point has been made. 
Luxury goods arrived in New Mexico with Onate, and continued to arrive with each 
supply train and succeeding governors and civil officials until the mid-1 670s. 

Why then the continual cry to Mexico of poverty on the part of colonists and 
the Church alike throughout the extant seventeenth-century documents? In part 


"A Headdress of Pearls" 

because New Mexico was impoverished when compared to Mexico — no gold or 
silver, to speak of, was found to provide economic support for the province. 
However, the lack of gold and silver was not the cause of the cries of poverty. 

What New Mexico lacked, and the reason for the pleas to the viceroy, were 
practical goods, such as iron and steel to make to make horseshoes and tools. 
Perhaps this was best said in 1639 in a report from the cabildo of Santa Fe to the 

without some articles that are not to be had here it is impossible to 
support or hold this country. Iron tools for cultivating and ploughing the 
land are especially needed ... in particular iron for horse shoes, for 
without it it is not possible to make any punitive expedition . . . but no 
iron has been [sent] since the year 1628. Consequently we are perishing, 
without a pound of iron or a plough. For the love of God, your excellency, 
do us the favor and charity to order this assistance to be sent (Hackett 

Figure 20. Gold filigree rosary, photo by Margery Denton, courtesy ofMOIFA, Santa Fe. 


Cordelia Thomas Snow 

Life was most certainly enjoyable in the remoteness of New Mexico if one was 
able to drink chocolate from porcelain cups, surrounded by the trappings of 
"civilization," but life was impossible without the most prosaic of materials, metal 


1 . These artifacts and corresponding entire pieces are on display at the Palace of 
the Governors in the exhibit entitled "Another Mexico: Spanish Life on the Upper 
Rio Grande." The archaeological materials from San Gabriel are owned by San Juan 
Pueblo and have been loaned to the Palace of the Governors by the Maxwell 
Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico. 

2. Linda Shulsky, research curator in the Department of Asian Art, Metropolitan 
Museum of Art, New York, identified the Chinese porcelains from excavations at 
San Gabriel and the Palace of the Governors. For a good discussion of Chinese 
porcelains in Mexico, see Mudge 1986. 

3. Two gilded altar screen fragments from Abo are in the collections of the 
Laboratory of Anthropology/Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe. 


8. Road to Rebellion, 
Road to Reconquest 

The Camino Real and the 
Pueblo-Spanish War, 1680-1696 

Rick Hendricks 

For almost a century the Camino Real was the remote colony of 
New Mexico's lifeline to the burgeoning metropolis of Mexico City, 
seat of government and commerce in New Spain. From the arrival of 
Don Juan de Onate in 1598 until the late summer of 1680, the Camino 
Real served the largely peaceful role of transportation artery, carrying 
goods and people to and from New Spain's far northern frontier. On 
10 August 1680 the peace was shattered as the Pueblo Indians rose up 
in rebellion to cast out the Spaniards and the Camino Real was turned 
into an escape route. The tumultuous events begun that day marked 
the beginning of the Pueblo-Spanish War, a dramatic struggle that 
would characterize much of the next two decades in New Mexico. For 
Spain, the revolt was a stunning, if temporary, reverse, a rare example 
of a conquered people successfully challenging Spanish authority. For 
the Pueblos, the events of 1680 were nothing less than a desperate 
battle for independence. 

The rebellious Pueblos moved with notable speed. Within five 
days, the Spanish settlements in northern New Mexico had been 
overrun. Most of the survivors, some 1500, were gathered at Isleta 
under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Alonso Garcfa. The remaining group 
of around 500 took refuge in the capital city of Santa Fe, where Gov. 
Antonio de Otermin led defensive efforts. Lines of communication 
were severed, and the southern contingent had no reason to hope that 
their northern compatriots had survived. Therefore, on August 14 they 
began their trek down the Camino Real to El Paso and a measure of 
safety. The following day the Pueblos laid siege to Santa Fe but were 
unable to breach its walls. After five days of often furious fighting, the 
Spaniards managed to break the siege. Though Pueblo casualties were 
heavier, the colonists also suffered from wounds and even death. 


Rick Hendricks 

Otermin and the remaining colonists were in a dangerous position. Spanish 
control of the colony had essentially been lost, and winter would soon be 
approaching. Isolated in Santa Fe, the colonists could no longer depend on 
supplies and reinforcements arriving on the Camino Real. With their lifeline in 
peril, they decided to abandon the colony and flee to the El Paso area. 

In better times the colonists would have left Santa Fe and proceeded 
southwest toward Santo Domingo Pueblo on the Camino Real. Instead, the 
refugees took the cart road and fled south down the Galisteo Basin and halted 
near the village of San Marcos. From there they turned west and traveled along 
Galisteo Creek to Santo Domingo, where they picked up the Camino Real. It is 
not certain why Otermfn made this detour and took the route used by heavily 
laden wagons approaching Santa Fe. The terminus of the Camino Real was at the 
principal gate of the plaza at Santa Fe, but use of the main highway in time of war 
posed a number of difficulties. He may have hoped to find survivors at San Marcos, 
or friendly Indians who might provide intelligence about the revolt. 
Keresan-speaking Indians living in the Cienega area, some fifteen miles south of 
Santa Fe, were in revolt and might have blocked the Spaniards' retreat. Another 
four or five miles down the road, the Camino Real wound its way down a cliff of 
black basalt that connected the Rio Arriba and Rio Abajo districts. La Bajada was 
a precipitous grade and more than a mile long. Its switchbacks made the trip slow 
under normal conditions, and attack by hostile Indians would have made it 

Figure 21. Encomendero, c. 1560, drawn by Jose Cisneros (from 
Riders across the Century, Texas Western Press, UTEP). 


Road to Rebellion 

extremely dangerous. Any one or a combination of these considerations may have 
led to Otermfn's decision. 

From Santo Domingo the Spaniards followed the Camino Real south to Fray 
Cristobal at the northern entrance to the Jornada del Muerto. Here, where the 
Camino Real left the Rio Grande valley, the fugitives from the Rio Arriba caught 
up with those who had fled from the Rio Abajo region at the time of the revolt. 
After receiving much-needed supplies brought by Fray Francisco Ayeta from the 
south, the colonists continued to the El Paso area where the New Mexico colony 
in exile was established under conditions of extreme hardship. 

The following year Father Ayeta was back in El Paso, having traveled over the 
Camino Real from Mexico City with reinforcements for the settlers and orders for 
Otermin to reconquer New Mexico. In the Spaniards' absence the Pueblo alliance 
came apart. The prime mover of the rebellion, the San Juan Indian leader, Pope, 
was ousted and Luis Tupatii from Picuris put in his place at the head of the 
confederation. Before long, Keres, Jemez, Taos, and Pecos Indians were at war 
with the Tano, Tewa, and Picuris. Both factions were soon set upon by Apaches 
and Ute raiders. 

On 5 November 1681 the Spanish expedition of almost 150 men and 1000 
animals and the necessary wagons crossed the Rio Grande and began their march 
upriver. At Robledo, the Camino Real left the river and proceeded north across 
the Jornada del Muerto. By December 6 the Spaniards arrived at Isleta and 
overcame the Indian's armed resistance. Eager to know how the Pueblos to the 
north would react to the Spaniards' return, Otermin dispatched Juan Dominguez 
de Mendoza to the Tiwa and Keres pueblos. The force followed the road as far 
north as La Cieneguilla but accomplished next to nothing. The Indians proved 
their resolve to live free from the Spaniards by raising a force to drive them out. 
By February 1682 the expeditions had beat a hasty retreat down the Camino Real 
to El Paso. 

In 1688, Gov. Pedro Reneros de Posada led an expedition that burned Santa 
Ana Pueblo, then located atop Black Mesa. The next year, however, Domingo 
Jironza Petrfs de Cruzate's raid on Zia had a very different effect. According to 
Jironza's account, he burned the pueblo and killed six hundred Indians. It is 
difficult to know, but it seems that Jironza was writing his own press releases. His 
story sounds remarkably similar to that related about the activities of Juan de 
Onate's forces at Acoma in 1 599. At any rate, Jironza's victory had a lasting effect 
because of a captive he took. The Indian governor of Zia, Bartolome de Ojeda, 


Rick Hendricks 

later proved crucial to the reconquest of New Mexico because of his knowledge 
of the Pueblos and his ability as a military leader. 

On August 10, San Lorenzo's Day, Don Diego de Vargas Zapata Lujan Ponce 
de Leon y Contreras, governor and captain general of the kingdom and provinces 
of New Mexico, launched the successful reconquest of the colony. The expedition 
traveled up the Camino Real as far as the southern entrance to the Jornada del 
Muerto. Here Vargas divided his forces to make better use of the scarce water 
available at El Perrillo, Las Penuelas, and the Paraje del Muerto. After safely 
crossing the parched desert, the forces reunited at Fray Cristobal. Following the 
Camino Real alongside the east bank of the Rio Grande, Vargas and company made 
their way toward Santa Fe. At Santo Domingo the expedition apparently left the 
highway, swinging east and then north to the city. After visiting the pueblos in 
northern New Mexico as far as Taos, Vargas went to the Hopi country, passing by 
Acoma on the way. He returned to the west bank of the Rio Grande, descending 
as far south as Robledo where he forded the river and picked up the Camino Real 
for the trip to El Paso. The 1 692 reconnaissance was merely a symbolic reconquest, 
the significance of which Vargas greatly exaggerated. 

Having concluded the first — largely ceremonial — stage of the reconquest, 
Vargas set about the business of the permanent recolonization of New Mexico. 
He submitted a plan that, though approved, was never carried out. According to 
this plan for better government in New Mexico, many of the Spanish and Indian 
settlements would be relocated nearer the Camino Real. The governor felt that it 
would take at least five hundred families and one hundred soldiers to resettle and 
defend the colony. By early 1693 Vargas was in New Biscay and New Galicia, 
enlisting soldiers and gathering together former residents of New Mexico. As an 
incentive, all refugees who chose to return would be granted the status of noble 


Don Diego de Vargas Zapata Lujan Ponce de Leon 
(from Kiva, Cross, and Crown, NPS; Kessell 1979:296). 


Road to Rebellion 

settlers. Throughout much of the year Vargas traveled up and down the Camino 
Real, stopping at Casas Grandes, Cusihuiriachic, Parral, Durango, Fresnillo, 
Sombrerete, and Zacatecas. 

The recolonizing expedition was ready to depart on October 4, San Francisco's 
Day. All told, more than 800 people made the trip, among them some 70 families, 
100 soldiers, and a contingent of Franciscans. An impressive array of livestock 
went along as well: 900 head of cattle and sheep, 2000 horses, and 1000 mules. 
Twelve large wagons carried passengers, and six held supplies and the image of 
Nuestra Senora de la Conquista. 

The condition of the Camino Real was a major concern for Vargas and vital 
for the success or failure of his recolonizing effort. Although there had been 
several military forays up the Camino Real in the dozen years since the 1680 revolt, 
the road had fallen into disrepair. From the time of Ferdinand and Isabella, Spanish 
citizens were responsible for maintaining the roads; the Pueblos had no incentive 
to take over the task for the departed Spaniards. Because he had been over the 
Camino Real the previous year, Vargas prepared for the worst. In many places the 
roadbed was almost overgrown, and for this reason Vargas drove the cattle and 
horses in the vanguard of the expedition. The passage of the animals helped beat 
down the vegetation and smooth the way for the wagons and the main body of 
settlers that followed. Over the years the rains had washed out the road in many 
places, and Vargas planned to have people ready to grade the road. In addition, 
he doubled the number of mules harnessed to each wagon. Some of the wagons 
were lightened and their load shifted to pack mules. The difficulty of the journey 
was made greater by the lateness of the season and approach of winter weather. 
As he moved upriver, Vargas and some of his men left the Camino Real at San 
Diego, near the southern end of Jornada del Muerto, and forded the river, while 
the principal group continued up the road. At Fray Cristobal, Vargas recrossed the 
Rio Grande and joined the wagons. 

At the same time that Vargas was actively recruiting in northern New Spain, 
the Franciscan father procurator, Fray Farfan, was in Mexico City trying to enlist 
settlers to go to New Mexico. By mid-July 1693 he had gathered more than 230 
people to travel under the direction of Cristobal de Velasco. This group of settlers 
moved slowly up the Camino Real from Mexico City and did not arrive in El Paso 
in time to accompany Vargas when he began the recolonizing effort. They joined 
Vargas and his group in the spring of 1694 in Santa Fe. 

The Camino Real was slowly returning to its traditional role as the essential 
commercial and transportation link among the several towns in New Mexico and 


Rick Hendricks 

with the rest of the Spanish empire. Early in 1 695, Juan Paez Hurtado left Zacatecas 
with the last major group of colonists recruited for settlement in New Mexico. 
Forty-four families and one thousand head of livestock began the journey up the 
highway to Santa Fe. 

At the time of the outbreak of the Pueblo-Spanish War in 1680 the Camino 
Real changed from a carrier of peaceful traffic to an avenue of flight. During the 
second phase of the war — though it was mostly fought in abeyance — the road was 
used as a way to move the troops up and down the Rio Grande valley in various 
attempts at reconquest. When the Spaniards returned to stay in 1 693, the Camino 
Real facilitated both the fierce military struggle and the reestablishment of a 
civilian population. The final dramatic episode of the clash between Pueblo and 
Spaniard, the 1696 Pueblo Revolt, was quickly suppressed without fundamentally 
altering the relationship of the colony to its principal thoroughfare. 

Around this time, Lazaro de Mizqufa, procurador mayor and member of the 
cabildo of Santa Fe, submitted a proposal reminiscent of the plan for better 
government submitted earlier by Vargas. According to Mizquia's way of thinking, 
the towns and pueblos of New Mexico should be relocated in the east bank of the 
Rio Grande and along the Camino Real. As in the case of the earlier attempt at 
urban redevelopment, the plan was never put into effect. 

After the conclusion of the Pueblo-Spanish War, the importance ofthe Camino 
Real to the New Mexico colony continued to grow. As a crucial element in the 
system of Spanish infrastructure in the New World, the highway took on the 
character of a living entity. With regular, peaceful traffic up and down the road, 
New Mexico was drawn more tightly into the economy of northern New Spain. By 
the end ofthe first decade ofthe eighteenth century, New Mexico would depend 
once again on its lifeline to the south, the Camino Real. 

Figure 22. Pistol, drawn by Jose Cisneros, courtesy of Albuquerque Museum. 


Road to Rebellion 

Suggested Reading 

EspinosaJ. Manuel 

1 977 Crusaders of the Rio Grande: the Story of Don Diego de Vargas and the 
Reconquest and Refounding of New Mexico. Documentary Publications, Salisbury, 
North Carolina. 

Hackett, Charles W., and Charmion C. Shelby 

1942 Revolt of the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico and Otermfn's Attempted 
Reconquest. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 

Moorhead, Max L. 

1 958 New Mexico's Royal Road: Trade and Travel on the Chihuahua Trail. Univer- 
sity of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 






fi u„ 




9. Tracing the 
Camino Real 

The Chihuahua Section 

John Roney 

The historic route of the Camino Real was abandoned almost a 
hundred years ago, but many traces of the old wagon and carreta route 
can still be found today. Recently systematic efforts to locate and 
document these remains have been made between Parral in southern 
Chihuahua, Mexico, and Santa Fe, in the United States. These 
investigations have two basic objectives. The first is to provide a basis 
for archaeological study of the Camino Real. Precise location of this 
historic road will allow archaeological documentation of the trail itself, 
as well as parajes and other more substantial sites associated with 
frontier travel. Through scientific study these remains can provide 
information that complements written historical accounts. 

The second objective of this study is to maintain awareness and 
interest in the history of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern 
United States by placing the Camino Real in its geographic context. 
The Camino Real is a historic feature that unites a variety of important 
themes, ranging from initial Spanish exploration and colonization to 
the modern cultural and economic processes that continue to shape 
history and lifeways in the border region. The physical traces of the 
Camino Real provide a tangible link between our own times and the 
historic people, events, and processes that are associated with this 
transportation corridor. They reveal landmarks and landscapes as they 
have been experienced by travelers for almost four hundred years, and 
in this way the landscape itself becomes a powerful reminder of the 
historical forces that have brought us to this point in time. 

This paper focuses on the portions of the Camino Real in the state 
of Chihuahua, Mexico. Efforts to locate the precise route of the Camino 
Real in Chihuahua were undertaken by Mike Marshall and myself, under 


John Roney 

the auspices of the Camino Real Project. They complement much more intensive 
studies Marshall (1990) has completed in New Mexico. 

Historical Sources 

The first step in identifying the actual route of the Camino Real de Tierra 
Adentro was a review of the history of settlements and major written accounts of 
travel along this route. This exercise was necessary in order to develop general 
expectations about the course of the Camino Real and the kinds of archaeological 
evidence we might find. In addition, many of the historical documents contain 
place names and geographical details that help to locate the Camino Real on the 
ground (see Maps 1 through 3). Location of key places described in the historical 
literature is complicated by name changes, some of which are listed here. 

Historic Name 

Modern Name 

San Bartolome 

Valle de Allende 

Map 1 


Villa Lopez 

Map 1 

Todos Santos 


Map 1 


Ciudad Jimenez 

Map 1 

Santa Rosario 

Ciudad Camargo 

Map 1,2 

Santa Cruz Tapacoims 


Map 2 

San Pablo 


Map 2 

Nombre de Dios, Chuviscar 


Map 3 

Los Medanos 

Samalayuca Dunes 

Map 3 

El Paso del Norte 

Ciudad Juarez 

Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe 

Ohate 's Route 

The Morlete expedition in 1591 may have been the first to approximate the 
route of the Camino Real through Chihuahua (Hammond and Rey 1966:47), but 
the 1598 expedition of Juan de Onate was the first to leave a detailed record. 
Ohate was leading a party of more than five hundred settlers and several thousand 
head of livestock to establish a new Spanish colony in New Mexico. At the time 
of his departure the Santa Barbara-San Bartolome area was the northernmost 
outpost of Spanish settlement. 

Some information about Onate's route is provided in Villagras epic poem 
written several years after the journey (Espinoza 1933), but the most specific 
geographic information is contained in a day-by-day account of the colonists' 
progress (Hammond and Rey 1953:309-328). After leaving San Bartolome, Onate 


Tracing the Camino Real 

went to the Todos Santos mines and then seems to have followed a course 
somewhat to the west of the future Camino Real. His Agua de la Tentacion was 
probably the paraje Chancaplea (Marquez Terrazas 1990:18), and it is likely that 
his expedition crossed the Rio San Pedro at San Pedro de Conchos. Between the 
Rio San Pedro and Valle de San Martin, in the vicinity of present-day Ciudad 
Chihuahua, the route is difficult to follow because the itinerary presents 
contradictory information. Nevertheless, Onate's Laguna de San Benito can only 
be Laguna Encinillas, and farther on, Rio de la Mentira and Banos de San Isidro are 
clearly the Rio del Carmen and OjoCaliente. The itinerary describes the difficulties 
experienced by the expedition in crossing the Samalayuca Dunes and implies that 
they passed through Puerto Presidio to reach the Rio Grande near the future 
location of Presidio San Elisario. 

Early Colonial Times: 1598-1700 

When Onate departed from the Santa Barbara area it was a very small 
settlement, perhaps supporting no more than thirty-five Spanish vecinos 
(residents). Silver bonanzas in the 1600s brought a major influx of settlers into 
the Santa Barbara-Parral area, however, and new haciendas were established in 
the general vicinity of San Bartolome. Farther north, Spanish settlements spread 
up the flanks of the Sierra Madre. Except for towns associated with livestock 
activity near present-day Chihuahua and Laguna Encinillas very late in the period 
(Hughes 1914:364), however, these settlements were all well to the west of the 
Camino Real. 

Santa Barbara and Parral were important settlements, and these two places 
were certainly the destination of much of the traffic along the Camino Real. 
Because both of these settlements were mining centers located in the foothills of 
the Sierra Madre, long-distance traffic may not have routinely entered either town. 
Instead it probably passed through San Bartolome, Atotonilco, or other haciendas 
in more gentle terrain 40 to 50 kilometers east of Santa Barbara and Parral. This 
was true of Onate's main party, and probably of other travelers bound for New 
Mexico as well. 

The route of the early Camino Real farther north may be indicated by the 
locations of a series of Franciscan missions established in the seventeenth century: 
San Francisco de Conchos was founded in 1 604, Atotonilco by 1 61 1 , San Pedro de 
Conchos in 1649, Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe at El Paso del Norte in 1659, and 
Nombre de Dios (near present-day Ciudad Chihuahua) in 1697 (Gerhard 1982). 
Presidios were established at two of these missions in the 1680s, San Francisco 
de Conchos and El Paso del Norte. 


John Roney 

da La Ramada 

MAP 1 


V>»— Villa 

■ Mission 

B Town 

D Hacienda 

JI Presidio 

A Paraje 

5? Mines 

' Camino Real 

10 20 30 Kilo 

VOjo San Bias 









<*r- . 

* rJ~ a Wadena 

• jtk Mampimi 

• /^ 

San Pedro *1 
del Gallo ■ 





Figure 23. Aerial and on-the-ground reconnaissance of portions of the Camino Real in Mexico: Map 1. 

Tracing the Camino Real 

Ojo Ga)legosy\ yf. 

V\ \ ^ 



/T \Encinillas\-,: "^ -*V\ 

^El Penol" —rfV 


MAP 2 



■ Mission 

■ Town 

□ Hacienda 

^% Presidio 

A Paraje 

A Mines 

• ••••• Camino Real 

10 20 JOKMomst.r. 
I- 1 1 I 

/t laPUla ' •••D-. a Bachimba \\ O 


San Pedro*. 
J^ de 

\Conchos £ 



La Ramada 

Figure 24. Aerial and on-the-ground reconnaissance of portions of the Camino Real in Mexico: Map 2. 


John Roney 



'•)> O y j.*. .'Puerto ^JxCtf/,.,- 
'»y-V> .* > Presidio O^iS-lPf 

MEDANOS ,; \ A'''*'^' 

El BordoA 

.•'* Puerto ,/' ■"• t\ 

• ,• Charcos . -^ 

. ..-del Grad<j/^ * 

,AOjo Lucero .^V. 

MAP 3 



^ Villa 













• Camino Real 

10 20 30Ki 
t 1 1 



A'bjo Cali 



liente y^ 


5 -*^ 

Ojo Gallego A /TS. 

Figure 25. Aerial and on-the-ground reconnaissance of portions of the Camino Real in Mexico: Map 3. 


Tracing the Camino Real 

During the 1600s almost all traffic bound to and from New Mexico was 
attached to large caravans organized by the Franciscans. These caravans journeyed 
from Mexico City to New Mexico and back at three- to seven-year intervals (Scholes 
1930). They were the principal means of commerce and communication with the 
colony in New Mexico, and some historians imply that there may have been little 
additional traffic along the Camino Real at this time (Moorhead 1 958:32). it seems 
reasonable that the caravans would have called at the Fransiscan missions on their 
way to New Mexico, and that the mission locations indicate the course of the 
Camino Real (see Maps 1 through 3). This impression is strengthened by the fact 
that presidios were also established at two of these missions. 

Late Colonial Times: 1700-1820 

The development of mines in the vicinity of Ciudad Chihuahua in the early 
1700s had a profound effect on the Camino Real. Ciudad Chihuahua became a 
major supply center, and by the mid-1 700s the New Mexico trade was controlled 
by merchants based in Chihuahua, rather than by the Franciscan missionaries 
(Moorhead 1958:41). Demand for agricultural products in Ciudad Chihuahua also 
resulted in the establishment of a number of haciendas along the Rio Conchos to 
the south and in the Sacramento and Laguna Encinillas areas to the north. These 
haciendas became important points of reference along the Camino Real and 
eventually grew into villages and towns. In order to protect these settlements, as 
well as travelers along the Camino Real, a number of military posts were 
established. At various times there were presidios at Guajoquilla, San Francisco de 
Conchos, Carrizal, San Elisario, and El Paso del Norte. Garrisons were also 
maintained at various times in Parral and Valle de San Bartolome. 

The first detailed account of travel along the Camino Real after Onate's initial 
exploration is provided by Pedro de Rivera, who passed along it in 1726 while 
making a military inspection of northern New Spain (Alessio Robles 1946). His 
route passed through the mission locations. He entered the Parral-San Bartolome 
area from the Presidio of Cerro Gordo and traveled directly to San Bartolome. 
Later he called on officials in Parral, then proceeded to San Francisco de Conchos, 
Chancaplea, and on to a hacienda on the Rio San Pedro, which must have been 
near San Pedro de Conchos. After camping in an unpopulated area, he reached 
Villa San Felipe del Real (Ciudad Chihuahua). His journey north from Chihuahua 
encompassed most of the places that figure in later accounts: Hacienda El Sauz, 
Hacienda Encinillas, Laguna San Martin (Laguna Encinillas), Ojo Gallego, Ojo 
Caliente, Laguna de los Patos, the sand dunes (Samalayuca), and El Paso del Norte. 


John Roney 

Relatively detailed accounts were written by two travelers in the 1760s: 
Bishop Pedro Tamaron y Romeral and Nicolas de Lafora. Tamaron (Alessio Robles 
1937; Adams 1954) was a Catholic Bishop who made an extensive ecclesiastical 
tour of Sonora, Nueva Viscaya, and New Mexico; Lafora (Alessio Robles 1939; 
Kinnaird 1958) was a lieutenant in the Spanish army who accompanied his superior 
officer on an inspection of military installations on the northern frontier. Neither 
of these travelers stayed strictly on the main route of travel, but both provide 
excellent discussions of settlements along the Camino Real, as they existed in the 
1760s. At this time the route seems to have been essentially the same as that 
followed by Pedro de Rivera; these are the last accounts that describe a route 
through San Francisco de Conchos and San Pedro de Conchos. 

By the early 1800s the main route of travel in the south had shifted eastward 
to incorporate a number of the haciendas along the Rio Conchos. This observation 
is based largely on an account written by U.S. Army officer Zebulon Pike (Coues 
1895; Jackson 1966), who was conducted over this route in 1807 by a Spanish 
escort. For diplomatic reasons the Spanish authorities did not arrest Pike, but 
they clearly understood that his mission was to gather military information which 
might be used against them in the future. From El Paso del Norte, Pike was taken 
down the Camino Real through Chihuahua, then up the Rio Conchos and Rio 
Florido as far as Guajoquilla. A few kilometers south of Guajoquilla his party left 
the fertile Rio Florido area and struck out into the desert on a route that eventually 
led to Monterrey. 

Mexican Period: 1821-1860 

Mexico achieved independence from Spain in 1821, and seven years later a 
British naval officer, Lieutenant Robert William Hale Hardy, left a lively account of 
his travels along portions of the Camino Real (Hardy 1977). Hardy was traveling 
from Sonora to central Mexico, and he apparently joined the Camino Real near 
Laguna Encinillas. From Chihuahua Hardy continued south to Santa Rosalia, but 
rather than take an easterly route through Guajoquilla, as Pike had done, he 
proceeded up the Rio Parral to San Bartolome. 

One important effect of Mexican independence was the opening of the Santa 
Fe trade. By 1 824 traders from Missouri were active in Chihuahua, bringing goods 
across the Great Plains to Santa Fe and then down the Camino Real. These Santa 
Fe traders have left several important accounts of travel along the Camino Real in 
Chihuahua, including those ofjosiah Gregg (1933), Susan Magoffin (Drumm 1962), 
James Webb (Bieber 1931), and George Rutledge Gibson (Frazer 1981). Most of 


Tracing the Camino Real 

these accounts date from the 1 840s, and they are especially useful for portions of 
the trail between El Paso del Norte and Ciudad Chihuahua. 

In 1841 the newly independent nation of Texas sent a party of more than three 
hundred men to New Mexico in hopes of inciting the residents to revolt against 
Mexico. Instead, they were taken prisoner and conducted on a grueling journey 
down the Camino Real to Mexico City. Several first-hand accounts of this incident 
have proven useful in reconstructing the route of the camino, including those of 
Kendall (1935) and Falconer (1963). 

Another important group of eyewitness descriptions of the Camino Real 
resulted from the invasion of Mexico by the United States in 1846. In December 
Col. Alexander S. Doniphan and the Army of the West occupied El Paso del Norte, 
and several months later they took Ciudad Chihuahua. In April the military 
expedition continued down the Camino Real as far as Guajoquilla (Ciudad 
Camargo) and then followed the route Pike had taken, southeast and east to Saltillo 
and Monterrey. Many accounts of this episode remain (Bieber 1935, 1936; 
Connelley 1907; Edwards 1847; Fulton 1944; Hughes 1907; Robinson 1932; 
Wislizenus 1969). George Ruxton, a British traveler, journeyed up the Camino Real 
from Mexico City to Santa Fe in 1846, just prior to Doniphan's invasion, leaving a 
detailed account of his experiences (Ruxton 1973). 

The California gold rush followed closely after the Mexican-American War, 
and one route to California was through Mexico. Several published accounts 
describe travel from Monterrey to Mampirm, joining the Camino Real southeast 
of Guajoquilla (Bieber 1937; Dobyns 1961). These travelers passed down the Rio 
Florido, through the settlements along the Rio Conchos, and on to Ciudad 
Chihuahua. From Chihuahua they traveled north through Sacramento, El Sauz, 
and Encinillas, where they left the Camino Real, striking for Hacienda Carmen, San 
Buenaventura, Janos, and Arizona. 

After the Mexican-American War, John Russell Bartlett headed the United 
States Boundary Commission, charged with establishing the new international 
boundary. In this capacity, Bartlett traveled widely in the southwestern United 
States and northern Mexico, including an 1852 trip from El Paso del Norte to 
Chihuahua, Monterrey, and eventually on to San Antonio, Texas. His account of 
these experiences is among the most interesting and detailed descriptions of the 
nineteenth-century Camino Real (Bartlett 1965). 


John Roney 


Results of the review of historical literature are summarized in Maps 1 through 
3. Correlations between some of the common place names and their modern 
counterparts are provided above. From the south, two main routes led into the 
San Bartolome area. The older was through Cerro Gordo to various haciendas on 
the Rio Florido and on to San Bartolome. This course was taken by Pedro de Rivera 
in 1 825, Nicolas Lafora in 1 766, Hardy in 1 828, Gregg in 1 835, the prisoners of the 
Texan Santa Fe Expedition in 1841, and by Ruxton in 1846. The second, more 
easterly route was through Pelayo and Ojo San Bias, striking the Rio Florido a few 
kilometers above Guajoquilla. This route was described by Pike, who traveled it 
in 1807. Later it was taken by the Doniphan Expedition in 1847, by most of the 
California emigrants in 1849, and by Bartlett in 1852. 

The area between Parral and Guajoquilla had been relatively well populated 
since the early 1600s, and a number of alternative routes exist in this area. The 
earliest accounts allude to San Bartolome and Atotonilco. By the mid-1 700s 
Guajoquilla was an important node for travelers, and later on a number of 
individual haciendas are mentioned. It is likely that an extensive system of local 
routes in this area connected the various settlements and haciendas. Travelers 
along the Camino Real probably used whichever routes were convenient, based 
on availability of forage and supplies, hospitality at the haciendas, and road 

Northward from this region were two principal routes to the Chihuahua area, 
an early route through San Francisco de Conchos and a later route down the Rio 
Conchos. There were several approaches to the San Francisco route. The earliest 
routes taken by the Franciscan supply trains may have been overland across 
relatively easy terrain between San Bartolome and San Francisco and between 
Atotonilco and San Francisco. In 1776, on the other hand, Lafora traveled to 
Guajoquilla, down the Rio Florido to La Ramada, and then westward to San 
Francisco de Conchos. From San Francisco the early route went northward 
through Chancaplea, San Pedro de Conchos, Mapula, and on to the Rio Chuvfscar 
near present-day Chihuahua. 

Beginning with Pike's in 1807, all accounts of travel along the Camino Real 
describe a route paralleling the Rio Conchos. Travelers from Parral or San 
Bartolome would journey down the Rio Parral, past Hacienda Santa Cruz to Santa 
Rosalia. Travelers on a more easterly route would go down the Rio Florido through 
Guajoquilla to Santa Rosalia. From there the route was along the east bank of the 


Tracing the Camino Real 

Rio Conchos to the ford at Las Garzas, then through a series of settlements to 
Hacienda Bachimba, through a narrow pass at Ojito, and on to Ciudad Chihuahua. 

North of Chihuahua the haciendas of Sacramento, El Sauz, El Penol, and 
Encinillas are often mentioned. From Laguna Encinillas the route was northward 
to Ojo Gallego, or sometimes a smaller spring called El Gallegito, then across the 
long, waterless Jornada de Jesus Marfa to Ojo Caliente. Prior to the founding of 
Presidio Carrizal in 1758, travelers may have continued down the Rio del Carmen 
to Laguna de los Patos, but in later years all travel accounts mention Carrizal. 

North of Laguna de los Patos, near Ojo Lucero, the route divided. The more 
direct route continued to a small, unreliable water source known as El Bordo and 
then crossed the Samalayuca Dunes. These dunes were a major obstacle, 
especially for wheeled vehicles. To cross this area of deep sand it was often 
necessary to unload the wagons, to use double teams of draft animals, or even to 
rent fresh mule teams or pack animals from El Paso del Norte. Ojo Samalayuca on 
the northern margin of the dunes was a reliable source of water. At that point 
some parties would travel directly north around the northern end of the Sierra 
Presidio to El Paso del Norte. Other parties would take the shortest route to the 
river valley itself, crossing the Sierra Presidio at Puerto Presidio and striking the 
river near the site of the Presidio San Elisario. 

Travelers wishing to avoid the Samalayuca Dunes took a route that was two 
days longer but much easier on their draft animals. Leaving the direct route north 
of Laguna de los Patos, they would proceed northeast to Charcos del Grado and 
across the Sierra Presidio at Puerto Ventanas. On the opposite side they watered 
at Tinajas de Cantarrecio, then continued down Las Bandejas drainage to the Rio 

Terrestrial Reconnaissance 

Review of historical sources showed the general route of the Camino Real and 
identified many of the important places and landmarks along the way. The next 
phase of this project was an attempt to locate the trail on the ground and plot it 
on 1 :50,000 scale topographic maps provided by the Chihuahua Departamento de 
Carreteras y Orbas Publicas. We began by studying the maps to locate as many of 
the place names known from the accounts as possible, and to determine likely 
routes of the camino based on topography. Important locations were highlighted 
on the topographic maps, and the entire route as we had reconstructed it was 
plotted on 1:250,000 scale maps. 



John Roney 

Next we spent six days on the ground in the section between Ciudad Juarez 
and Chihuahua, attempting to locate the major parajes and to find actual traces 
of the trail. Marshall (1988) has written a detailed account of our findings during 
this phase of the project. In the area south of Juarez we were able to identify Ojo 
Samalayuca where several broad swales represent the Camino Real, and where we 
found a hand-forged tack and an olive jar fragment. We located El Bordo pass 
based on topography, and we were able to see another trace of the Camino Real 
leading back toward the Samalayuca Dunes. We were unable to locate historic 
Ojo Lucero. Modern Ojo Lucero, Banco El Lucero, Estacion Lucero, El Lucero, and 
a windmill called Los Dos were all inspected, but no early historical artifacts or 
swales that might have been the Camino Real were found. 

On the more easterly route through Tinajas de Cantarrecio and Puerto 
Ventanas we were able to approximate the course of the trail and observe the 
regional topography. Access into this area is controlled by locked gates, however, 
and we were not able to approach the actual locations of the Camino Real. Near 
Laguna de los Patos we inspected several springs (Ojo Coyote and El Alamo) 
resembling those described in the historical accounts but did not find definite 
evidence of the Camino Real. 

Today Carrizal is a sleepy village adjacent to an oasis-like cienega. Although 
the walls of the old presidio are no longer standing, its outline is indicated by 
substantial adobe mounds accompanied by a seventeenth-century midden (Gerald 
1968:24). Outside the presidio are a series of adobe house mounds which 
apparently date to the nineteenth century, based on the occurrence of black and 
aquamarine glass, delft, and black- and blue-banded ironstone. We also found a 
sherd from an Acoma Polychrome vessel, presumably a relic of the Santa Fe trade. 

South of Carrizal we relocated Ojo Caliente near present-day El Olivo. 
Although the spring is now dry, its location is indicated by a large cluster of trees 
and an earth and stone masonry impoundment. A series of adobe house mounds 
and the Santa Rosa church, partly in ruins, are adjacent to the spring. Artifacts 
associated with these buildings indicate an occupation in the late nineteenth or 
early twentieth century, and tombstones in the campo santo (cemetery) date to as 
early as 1905. A massive masonry wall almost a meter in width overlooks the 
spring and could be the remains of the earlier settlement, abandoned during the 
Suma Revolt in 1684. There are also stacked rock circles two to five meters in 
diameter, a single rectangular enclosure, and a group of rock cairns on the summit 
of an adjacent hill. These structures and a group of bedrock mortars were 
observed by Bartlett in 1853 and are presumed to be of aboriginal origin. 


Tracing the Camino Real 

In the Sierra Gallegos the historical sources describe two springs, Ojo Gallego 
and, about four miles farther on, Ojo Gallecito. We believe that these springs 
correspond to present-day Arroyo La Reserva and Los Alamos-El Galleguito near 
El Sueco. Our reconnaissance focused on Arroyo La Reserva, which featured 
bedrock pools near the mouth of a canyon that were overflowing and running a 
short distance onto the bajada at the base of the Sierra Gallego. In a brief 
reconnaissance we found a few prehistoric stone artifacts, and overlooking the 
spring was a penol (rocky steep-sided hill) with several rude parapet walls on its 
summit. We did not note any historical artifacts, but on the bajada below the 
spring is a dramatic remnant of the Camino Real. This linear zone of mesquite 
about 50 meters in width can be traced for 20 to 30 kilometers from the air. No 
swale is visible, but an arroyo cut across this feature has exposed a lenticular 
stratum about 50 centimeters in depth which appears to be the refilled trailway. 

The southernmost stage of our reconnaissance passed along the eastern shore 
of Laguna Encinillas, through El Penol and El Sauz. These two villages, as well as 
nearby Encinillas, are presumably successors of the haciendas that figure 
prominently in the historical literature, but no inquiries or field inspections were 
made in this area. 

Aerial Reconnaissance 

Our terrestrial reconnaissance enabled us to determine the general route of 
the Camino Real. Some of the parajes and other important locations were 
identified and we were able to show that physical traces of the old wagon route 
could still be seen in several areas. This information was plotted on 1:250,000 
and 1 :50,000 scale topographic maps. In many areas, however, physical traces of 
the trail are difficult to see from the ground, and terrestrial reconnaissance is 
necessarily limited in scope. Our previous experience with prehistoric Chacoan 
roads in the San Juan Basin suggested that these limitations could be overcome 
using aerial reconnaissance (Kincaid 1983; Niles et al. 1987). 

Through the generosity of the Chihuahua Departamento de Desarroyos Social 
we were able to fly over large portions of the trail between Juarez and the 
Parral-Santa Barbara area. These flights demonstrated that large portions of the 
Camino Real in Mexico are still preserved. Although little actual road construction 
had occurred along the trail, repeated wagon and carreta traffic has often left clear 
evidence of its route. In many areas erosion along the trail has resulted in long, 
straight arroyos which are not necessarily parallel to prevailing drainage patterns. 
In other areas, such as the Samalayuca Dunes, repeated disturbance loosened the 


John Roney 

sandy soil and left it susceptible to eolian deflation, resulting in a deep swale along 
the old course of the Camino Real. Some of the most dramatic traces of the trail, 
as seen from the air, are in the vicinity of El Sueco, where its route can be seen as 
a linear area of dense mesquite extending for 20 or 30 kilometers. The increase 
in mesquite may have been enhanced by the intensive livestock traffic in these 
areas. Finally, some portions of the Camino Real are still in use and are apparent 
as streets and other routes that crosscut more recent transportation systems. All 
of these features are most easily seen from the air. 

Altogether we documented more than 100 kilometers of visible trail in the 
section between Ciudad Juarez and Ciudad Chihuahua. The impressive section 
near El Sueco-Ojo Gallego has already been mentioned. Almost as impressive is 
the 25-kilometer-long section between Laguna de los Patos and Puerto Ventanas, 
and a 16 kilometer section that can be seen in the Samalayuca Dunes, extending 
south as far as the pass at El Bordo. Closer to Chihuahua recent agricultural and 
urban development has undoubtedly destroyed many traces of the trail, but a clear 
segment was found extending northwards from Molinar, a small community near 

To the south of Chihuahua the situation is more complex. To the south of 
Chihuahua the situation is more complex due to modern disturbance and a higher 
level of historic acitivity unrelated to the Camino Real. Most of the Rio Conchos 
section has probably been obliterated by agricultural development, although we 
did see clear evidence of the trail between Ojito and Ciudad Chihuahua. Also, to 
the south of San Francisco de Conchos and in the Parral-San Bartolome area the 
traces of many old trails are visible. In a brief reconnaissance flight, it was not 
possible to sort out which of these trails might actually be main routes of the 
Camino Real. 

Despite these difficulties, we did find traces between Mapula and San Pedro 
de Conchos that may represent about twenty kilometers of the 
seventeenth-century route. Other potential evidence of this route includes ten 
kilometers between San Pedro de Conchos and San Francisco de Conchos and a 
segment of unknown length extending southeast from San Francisco de Conchos. 
Finally, an impressive set of multiple parallel ruts ascends from the Valle de Allende 
drainage about two kilometers west of San Bartolome. The ruts merge into a swale 
which was traced across a drainage divide into the Rio Parral. Time did not permit 
reconnaissance in the vicinity of Atotonilco or Guajoquilla, and much more work 
is warranted in this area. 


Tracing the Camino Real 


Review of historical literature pertaining to the Camino Real in Chihuahua 
established the general route of this historic transportation corridor and identified 
important places that might reward archaeological investigation. Subsequent 
terrestrial reconnaissance identified several promising archaeological localities 
and suggested that at least some traces of the actual trail still exist. Aerial 
reconnaissance showed that extensive remnants of the Camino Real are still 
preserved, both north and south of Ciudad Chihuahua. Altogether almost 150 
kilometers of the historic Camino Real have been plotted on 1:50,000 scale 
topographic maps. 

Clearly, much work remains to be done. A systematic documentation of the 
route of the Camino Real using aerial photography has not been undertaken, and 
many important haciendas and parajes along the trail have not yet been located. 
Additional archival work will almost certainly be necessary to sort out the situation 
in the Parral-San Bartolome area. Nevertheless, the work reported here has firmly 
established the route of the Camino Real in many areas. In doing so, it has laid a 
basis for further archaeological work and established a firm foundation for 
interpretation of the Camino Real to wider audiences. 

Figure 26. Modern travelers on 1-25 parallel the Camino Real, photo by Teresa Sanchez-Martinez, 
courtesy of the New Mexico State Highway and Transportation Department. 







<!" ' 

m< ; : 


10 » 

10. Livestock on the 
Camino Real 

John 0. Baxter 

Travel over the New Mexico portion of the Camino Real began in 
1581 when FrayAgustfn Rodriguez and Captain Francisco Chamuscado 
led a small party out of Santa Barbara in present-day Chihuahua for a 
reconnaissance of the mysterious lands to the north. From its 
confluence with the Rio Conchos they followed the Rio Grande 
upstream, fording the river where El Paso is today. Continuing north, 
they followed the east bank to present-day Rincon, where they left the 
river to cross a formidable 100-mile stretch of desert, later known as 
the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of the Dead Man). South of Socorro 
they returned to the river and encountered the first Pueblo Indians 
nearby. The trail opened by Rodriguez and Chamuscado, subsequently 
known as the Camino Real, was trod by soldiers, missionaries, and 
supply trains entering New Mexico. Later, merchant caravans and large 
flocks of sheep traveled south over the historic trace en route to 
markets in the interior of New Spain. 

Like other sixteenth-century explorers, Rodriguez and 
Chamuscado relied on horses for transportation and on small droves 
of cattle and sheep for sustenance. Permanent establishment of Old 
World livestock species did not occur in New Mexico before the arrival 
of the colonizing expedition led by Don Juan de Onate in 1598. In his 
proposal to Viceroy Luis de Velasco indicating equipment and supplies 
needed to establish a new settlement, Onate included 1 50 mares with 
colts, 4000 sheep, 1000 goats, and 1000 cattle. Making an interesting 
distinction, he also listed 100 head of "black cattle." J. Frank Dobie, 
the prominent Southwestern writer and folklorist, has speculated that 
Onate brought the blacks to start a strain of fighting bulls in his new 
domain. It seems more likely, however, that the ancestry of the 
hundred cattle set apart from the common herd could be traced to 
Avila and Andalucia in central and southern Spain. From ancient times, 


John 0. Baxter 

Figure 27. Spanish Barbs (Barbary horses), photo by Larry Beckner, 
The New Mexican, courtesy of Olivia Tsosie. 


Livestock on the Camino Real 

herdsmen in those provinces had bred black cattle that served as both meat and 
draft animals. Demonstrating admirable foresight, Onate probably wanted to 
ensure a supply of oxen for farming and transportation. 

The sheep assembled by Onate in the Valle de San Bartolome for the 
colonization of New Mexico also served a dual purpose. Of a type known as churro, 
they were descended from the common sheep of southern Spain, whose long but 
humble heritage extended back to Roman times. Small of stature and producing 
only a minimal quantity of coarse, long-staple wool, the churro adapted readily to 
the semi-arid grasslands of the New World. Its meager fleece proved well-suited 
to hand processing, and all agreed that the churro's meat was unsurpassed for 
flavor. Able to substitute morning dew and succulent plants for drinking water, 
these tough little sheep could withstand drought better than cattle, sometimes 
surviving for days on the trail without recourse to streams, springs, or ponds. 
Because of these attributes, the hardy churros showed themselves equal to 
conditions prevailing on New Mexico's frontier. 

While preparing for the long journey north, Onate's followers assembled an 
enormous caballada or horse herd, comprising more than 1200 head. In addition 
to the 150 mares and colts pledged as breeding stock for the colony, Onate's 
personal outfit included twenty-five horses, a like number of mules, two coaches, 
two carts, with all the necessary harness. To minimize lameness and keep their 
mounts sound through rough country, the Spaniards carried a fully equipped forge 
and several thousand horseshoes. Unfortunately, descriptions of the horses in 
Onate's caballada are sketchy at best. The Mexican historian Pedro Saucedo 
Montemayor does provide some information concerning the horses of New Spain 
during the post-Conquest era, however. Of Arab and Moorish ancestry, the cabalio 
criollo inherited such valuable traits as great stamina, good heads, and an 
intelligence rare in other strains. Most breeders preferred dark colors — bays, 
blacks, and sorrels — because they were hard to see from long distances, an 
especially useful attribute in times of war. Size and weight varied according to 
region, with larger animals originating on the plains of the northern provinces. 
Evidently, not all Onate's mounts measured up to the high standard indicated by 
Saucedo. After making a final inspection prior to the departure from San 
Bartolome, Captain Juan de Frias Salazar asserted grumpily that part of the herd 
failed to qualify as army horses; he described them as "old nags." 

With the completion of the Frias inspection, Onate's colonizers were ready 
to begin the long and arduous journey to New Mexico. The expedition must have 
presented an awesome sight as it left the Valle de San Bartolome on 26 January 
1598. Fray Alonso de Benavides later wrote that the livestock, wagons, and pack 


John 0. Baxter 

animals spread over the countryside for more than a league. As the march began, 
the crowd broke into applause, but the colonists' cheers were quickly 
overpowered by a deafening screech from dozens of ungreased cartwheels, 
according to the party's poet laureate, Gaspar Perez de Villagra. 

During the seven-month journey, the livestock suffered from occasional water 
shortages. Before reaching the Rio Grande, many almost died from thirst, a fate 
averted by a fortuitous cloudburst that made pools large enough for all 7000 head 
to drink. Thereafter, the place was known as Socorro del Cielo (Help from the Sky). 
Near present-day El Paso the party found the Rio Grande high enough to make 
crossing difficult for the sheep, which were helped across by friendly Indians, the 
first encountered during the journey. As the pioneers moved up the Camino Real, 
water shortages also occurred in the section that would later be known as the 
Jornada del Muerto. Finally, in July, the colonists reached the Tewa Indian village 
of Ohke near the junction of the Rio Grande and the Chama. There, on the west 
bank of the Rio Grande, Onate made his headquarters in a settlement known as 
San Gabriel. As they established new homes, the Spaniards scattered their livestock 
over the surrounding grasslands to provide food, fiber, and transport for the 

Once New Mexico had been established as a colony, authorities in Mexico City 
had to solve the problem of maintaining communications with this frontier 
outpost, almost 1500 miles away. At first, supply trains made their way over the 
Camino Real to Santa Fe, the capital, at lengthy intervals of up to five or six years. 
These long delays left government and church officials completely out of touch 
with conditions in more populated areas of New Spain. As the Franciscan Order 
gradually increased the number of friars engaged in conversion of the Pueblo 
Indians, mission supply costs also grew at a rapid rate. To control escalating 
expenses, Fray Tomas Manso signed a contract with officials of the Royal Treasury 
in 1 63 1 for the organization and management of the supply trains that, henceforth, 
were to make a round-trip every three years. Manso then secured thirty-two 
heavy-duty freight wagons with all the equipment and spare parts necessary for 
maintenance during the 3000-mile journey out and back. He also obtained some 
550 mules — two eight-mule teams for each wagon, and replacements for any that 
became lost or died en route. Each wagon carried sufficient supplies to outfit two 
friars for three years, including clothing; cooking utensils; sugar, spices, and other 
food items; sacramental wine; and candles. Having begun a very efficient 
enterprise, Manso remained in charge until 1656 when he was named bishop of 


Livestock on the Camino Real 

From their inception until the great Pueblo Revolt of 1 680, the mule-powered 
wagon trains remained the most important link between New Mexico and Mexico 
City. During the long journey over the Camino Real byway of Zacatecas, Durango, 
and Parral, Indian laborers, supervised by Hispano mayordomos, looked after the 
mules and protected the freight. For the return trip, New Mexico's governors 
frequently commandeered the empty wagons to benefit themselves. During this 
era the provincial executive often monopolized export trade, which consisted of 
a few coarse textiles produced with Indian labor and a poor assortment of raw 
materials — salt, hides, pinon nuts, and livestock. Because sales of live animals 
offered one of the few opportunities to secure cash in outside markets, excessive 
exports became a major problem. These sales stripped the province of its breeding 
stock and food supply, a difficulty that plagued New Mexico for many years. For 
example, in 1634 a viceregal decree ordered an investigation into charges that 
Governor Francisco de la Mora Ceballos had "destroyed" New Mexico by sending 
400 mares, 800 cows, and a large number of sheep and goats down the Camino 
Real for sale at Santa Barbara. A successor, Governor Bernardo Lopez de 
Mendizabal, attempted to monopolize the livestock trade by denying dealers "from 
other kingdoms" entry into the province. 

Figure 2$. "Packed with bedding, "from Harper's Weekly, courtesy of History Library 
Graphics Collection, Museum of New Mexico (MNM), box 1-item 20B. 


John 0. Baxter 

In August 1680 the outbreak of the Pueblo Revolt forced New Mexico's 
Hispano residents to abandon the province. After gathering their livestock, the 
settlers retreated southward down the Camino Real to the area near El Paso, where 
they remained for twelve years. When Spanish forces under Captain General Diego 
de Vargas made a triumphant reentry in 1692-1693, they found that the Pueblo 
Indians had retained some cattle and sheep, although their numbers had dwindled 
during the Spanish hiatus. After a series of bitter campaigns, Vargas realized that 
recolonization would fail without more men and the resources to sustain them. 
After obtaining approval from authorities in Mexico City, Vargas's representatives 
assembled a relief expedition in Parral to transport dry goods, munitions, and a 
large herd of cattle, sheep, and goats. With the textiles loaded on pack mules and 
livestock trailing behind, the caravan headed up the Camino Real, arriving at Santa 
Fe in April 1 697. Soon thereafter, Vargas distributed everything among the settlers 
on the basis of family size. During the livestock division, approximately 1000 New 
Mexicans received more than 4000 ewes, 170 goats, and 500 cows. They also 
acquired 150 bulls that were to be used to breed draft animals. Following the 
Vargas disbursement, the settlers scattered out to Santa Cruz de la Canada, 
Bernalillo, and other pre-Revolt communities. Their herds increased slowly at first, 
but New Mexico's livestock industry was back on its feet again. 

During the years after the Pueblo Revolt, most of the freight moving between 
trade centers in New Spain and New Mexico was transported by long trains of pack 
mules. Although wheeled vehicles continued to be used occasionally in the 
eighteenth century, mules proved to be better adapted to traversing rough country 
and fording dangerous streams. Tough, sure-footed, and sagacious, they 
outperformed horses as beasts of burden. For many years, mules had shown their 
worth in the colonial mining industry. Mine owners employed thousands of the 
long-eared hybrids to carry unprocessed ore out of subterranean shafts to the 
surface and to provide power for primitive crushing machinery (arrastras). Mule 
trains also conveyed loads of bullion from reduction works to the casas de monedas 
where coinage was minted. As the demand for mules increased early in the 
nineteenth century, more and more haciendas began raising them, importing 
well-bred jacks from Spain and the United States for their added size. According 
to Alexander von Humboldt, a perceptive observer of the Mexican scene, the 
freight traffic between Vera Cruz and Mexico City alone required 70,000 mules 
annually in the early 1800s. 

Josiah Gregg, in his classic account of the Santa Fe Trail (Moorhead 1954), 
wrote that mules performed the same indispensable function for Mexicans that 
camels did for Arabs. During his travels, Gregg was particularly impressed by the 
way the arheros (muleteers) entwined their animals in a web of intricate hitches 


Livestock on the Camino Real 

as they cinched down heavy loads on aparejos (packsaddles) with long ropes made 
of seagrass or rawhide. Working together in pairs when loading or unloading the 
train, half a dozen arrieros could easily manage forty or fifty mules, making twelve 
or fifteen miles a day. Strung out behind the bellmare, the trains presented a 
picturesque sight that seldom failed to catch the attention of travelers on the 
Camino Real. Because the arrieros received less than five dollars a month in wages, 
supplemented by a meager ration of beans and chile Colorado, freight rates 
remained surprisingly low, much cheaper than transportation by wagon. 

Although freighters preferred mules as beasts of burden, most of the hardy 
frontiersmen following the Camino Real traveled on horseback. Wills and other 
documents indicate that horses suitable for long-distance travel (caballos de camino 
bueno) commanded extremely high prices in eighteenth-century New Mexico. 
Wealthy ranchers took great pride in their mounts, each one presenting a colorful 
picture when turned out in his silver mounted saddle, bridle, and spurs, topped 
off with a broad sombrero and brilliant serape from Saltillo. 

Once horse breeding had been established by Onate's settlers, the colony s 
Indian neighbors soon learned to value this exotic animal. As early as 1609, Fray 
Francisco de Velasco suggested that Pueblo Indian converts to Christianity should 
be rewarded with gifts of breeding stock — cows, ewes, and mares. Beginning with 
the Apaches, nearby nomadic tribes acquired increasing numbers of horses 
through trade or, more frequently, by raiding. At the beginning of the eighteenth 
century, most of the southern Plains tribes as far as the confluence of the Missouri 
and Mississippi rivers, including the Pawnees, Osages, and Wichitas, had obtained 
horses in this manner. Once plentiful in New Mexico, horses became scarce 
because of continuing thefts. Frequently, presidial troops headquartered in Santa 
Fe had difficulty taking the field against Indian foes because of a lack of mounts. 
In 1775, officials in New Spain sent 1500 head up the Camino Real to Governor 
Pedro Fermfn de Mendinueta to replace others that had been crippled, lost, or 
stolen, incurring a heavy expense for the Royal Treasury. 

During the eighteenth century, horses of Spanish ancestry continued to 
spread among the tribes of the northern Plains and intermountain regions. In 1 787, 
David Thompson, a well-known fur trader employed by the Hudson's Bay 
Company, reported that a party of hostile Piegans, traveling far south to raid 
Shoshone camps, captured a Spanish pack train. The booty included thirty or forty 
horses, which Thompson described as mostly dark brown, standing about fourteen 
hands, with neat heads, short ears, clear eyes, and fine manes and tails. Obviously, 
these handsome animals had journeyed a long way from home. 


John 0. Baxter 

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, large herds of feral horses, or 
mustangs, roamed at will over the vast plains of New Spain's northern provinces. 
In 1806, the German scientist Alexander von Humboldt likened the untamed 
horses of Nuevo Mexico and Nueva Vizcaya to those of Chile, declaring that both 
were descended from the Arab breed of North Africa. Each year, Anglo adventurers 
gathered herds of mustangs for sale in New Orleans or Natchez. Occasionally, Ohio 
River boatmen, eager to reinvest profits from a successful trading venture, 
returned home overland with some of these unbroken horses, which brought up 
to fifty dollars in hard cash from dealers in Kentucky. 

Although horses and mules continued to carry most of the travelers and freight 
on the Camino Real during the colonial era, the great flocks of sheep that moved 
south from New Mexico to interior markets provided the greatest volume of traffic. 
With peace restored after the Vargas reoccupation, settlers hoped to renew 
commerce with towns below the Rio Grande but possessed few merchantable 
commodities. Lacking the rich mines that sustained Zacatecas, Durango, and 
Chihuahua, New Mexicans continued to depend largely on exports of raw 

Figure 29. Churro sheep, photo by Larry Heller. 


Livestock on the Camino Real 

materials. In exchange for tanned skins, pinon, sheep, raw wool, and woolen 
textiles, they obtained tools, weapons, dry goods, and other manufactured goods 
so necessary on the frontier. 

In the early 1770s New Mexico's governors banned exports of wool and 
livestock to prevent depletion of resources needed to maintain the provincial 
economy. As flocks slowly grew, officials relented somewhat, allowing outside 
sales of woolen products and wethers (carneros). Ewes remained under embargo 
to conserve breeding stock. Because of their value in trade, sheep became a 
medium of exchange, often replacing cash in retail transactions. Toward the end 
of the eighteenth century, sheep numbers began to outstrip local requirements, 
permitting exports to increase dramatically. To market the surplus, entrepreneurs 
assembled enormous flocks of wethers, known as carneradas, at La Joya de 
Sevilleta, the last settlement north of the Jornada del Muerto. Taking advantage 
of summer rains, which filled water holes and improved grazing conditions, the 
caravans usually departed in August for the long, slow drive down the Camino Real 
to Chihuahua, the leading trade center at that time. Protected by a military escort, 
the expeditions were large enough to discourage Indian depredations. Most of the 
commerce in sheep was controlled by a few wealthy New Mexico families, often 
related by marriage, who were bound together by economic and political ties. 

After several decades of steady growth in the late colonial period, New 
Mexico's sheep exports reached a climax following Mexican independence. Big 
traders, such as Mariano Chaves y Castillo, Antonio Sandoval, and members of the 
Ortiz, Otero, and Perea families, exported up to 30,000 wethers in a single year, 
although drives of 2000 to 5000 head were more common. To find new markets, 
many flocks bypassed Chihuahua and continued down the Camino Real to change 
hands at Durango, an important regional trade center. In 1832, drovers trailed 
4000 New Mexico sheep all the way to Mexico City and Cuernavaca. 

A strong demand for sheep was not the only factor that caused increased 
traffic on the Camino Real during the years following Mexican independence. 
Officials of the new nation quickly abandoned the Spanish policy of excluding 
foreign merchandise, a change that resulted in the opening of the Santa Fe Trail 
connecting New Mexico and the United States. After William Becknell's successful 
business venture in 1821, dozens of Anglo traders followed his lead. Within a few 
years, a sharply increased supply of consumer goods flooded the New Mexico 
market, causing the traders to follow down the Camino Real to Chihuahua, 
Durango, and other southern towns to sell their wares. As in the seventeenth 
century, long trains of canvas-covered wagons laden with all kinds of merchandise 
began to ply the Camino Real. According to Gregg, freighters employed equal 


John 0. Baxter 

« - > 

Figure 30. Sheep camp, courtesy of Western History Department, 
Denver Public Library, negative no. ¥14573. 

numbers of mules and oxen to draw their vehicles. Although stronger and less 
excitable, oxen proved slower, harder to maintain, and more prone to lameness 
than mules. For many years, New Mexicans had used oxen for farming and to pull 
their noisy carretas. 

In 1846, sheepmen and traders alike found that the turmoil caused by the 
Mexican War disrupted business ties with southern cities. For a brief period, 
cavalry horses and military supply wagons superceded civilian traffic as U.S. Army 
forces marched down the Camino Real for campaigns in California and Chihuahua. 
The war did not permanently end commercial travel on the historic trail, however. 
In the 1850s, after the discovery of gold in California, New Mexican sheepmen 
pointed their flocks westward, hoping to open new markets at the prosperous 
mining camps. From the old rendezvous at Lajoya, they followed the route opened 
by Lt. Col. Philip St. George Cooke and the Mormon Batallion across southern New 
Mexico to the Rio Gila, continuing down that stream to the Colorado and the gold 
fields beyond. At about the same time, venturesome merchants reopened 
connections with Chihuahua, Guadalajara, and other commercial centers in 
Mexico. Wagon trains continued to roll down the Camino Real until the advent of 
the railroads in the 1880s, but the trade never regained the importance that it had 
in earlier times. 


Livestock on the Camino Real 

Suggested Reading 

Baxter, John 0. 

1987 Las Carneradas: Sheep Trade in New Mexico, 1700-1860. University of New 
Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 

Saucedo Montemayor, Pedro 

1984 Histoha de la Ganaderia en Mexico. Universidad Nacional Autonoma 
Mexico, Mexico. 

Worcester, D. E. 

1944-1945 The Spread of Spanish Horses in the Southwest. New Mexico 
Historical Review 19 Guly):225-232 and 20 Ganuary):l-13. 






1 1 . Agriculture and 
the Camino Real 

Food Supplies for Zacatecas 

John 0. Baxter 

For more than three centuries the Camino Real de la Tierra 
Adentro provided New Spain's principal communications link between 
Mexico City and the far-off northern settlements. With the discovery 
of enormous silver deposits at Zacatecas and beyond, governmental 
authorities recognized the need for an improved road to supply the 
bustling camps and expedite delivery of bullion to the capital. By 1 598 
the Camino extended all the way to New Mexico, following the arrival 
of the colonizing expedition led by Don Juan de Onate. Because the 
new mines were often located at high elevations in arid regions 
unsuited to farming, transport of agricultural products quickly became 
an important part of the traffic on the "King's Highway." To deliver large 
quantities of grain and other commodities at the camps, a freighting 
industry sprang up, one of the many secondary enterprises that 
resulted from the mining boom. The problem of providing food 
supplies to Zacatecas illustrates the relationships between mining, 
agriculture, and transport in New Spain's economy. 

Surrounded by low mountains, Zacatecas is located about 370 
miles northwest of Mexico City at an elevation of 8000 feet in the 
colonial province of Nueva Galicia. Close to the southern edge of the 
great plateau that slopes downward to the north toward the border 
with the United States, it is one of the highest cities in Mexico. 
Deficient in rainfall, the surrounding countryside is a desertic region 
characterized by thin soils unsuitable for farming. The native 
vegetation consists of nopal cactus, mesquite, yucca, and similar 
plants. Although the Zacatecos Indians and other neighboring tribes 
cultivated small patches of maize and beans, agriculture has always 
been difficult there. 


John 0. Baxter 

Figure 31. New Mexico Scene, by Richard Tallent, courtesy of Western 
History Department, Denver Public Library. 

The first silver strike at Zacatecas took place on 8 September 1 546 when local 
Indians gave some rich ore samples to an exploring party led byjuan de Tolosa, a 
Basque prospector. Tolosa's backers included another Basque, Cristobal de Onate, 
an experienced mining entrepreneur and one of the richest men in Nueva Galicia. 
His son, Juan de Onate, subsequently obtained royal authorization to establish the 
first permanent colony in New Mexico. A third Basque, Diego de Ibarra, soon joined 
Tolosa at the mines and played a leading role in their development. After 
discovering more promising silver lodes, the Basques and their associates founded 
the town of Zacatecas to encourage settlement. A rowdy collection of settlers 
arrived, including at least three hundred Spaniards "skilled in mining" and an 
uncounted number of Indian, black, and mestizo laborers. Far from other settled 
communities, Zacatecas faced immediate problems in maintaining public order 
and securing a reliable food supply. 

News of the bonanza soon reached farmers in other regions who were eager 
to cash in on the high prices rumored at Zacatecas. Despite a lack of improved 
roads and increased raiding by Indians, farmers and speculators {regatones) realized 
that anticipated profits made the risks worthwhile. At first most of the grain and 
other food products carried to Zacatecas came from settled areas in Nueva Galicia 
near Guadalajara, the provincial capital. Continuing strong demand, however, 
encouraged producers from more distant regions to send large quantities of maize 


Agriculture and the Camino Real 

and wheat to the mines. To expedite travel, governmental authorities gave 
highway improvements their full attention. 

In the 1 540s, the improved portion of the Camino Real ended about 1 30 miles 
northwest of Mexico City at Queretaro, an important town in the fertile 
wheat-growing area known as the Bajio. Beginning in 1549, Viceroy Antonio de 
Mendoza pressed for new construction all the way to Zacatecas by way of San 
Miguel, San Felipe, and Cuicillo, a distance of about 240 miles. Mendoza also 
ordered the renovation of existing routes, especially feeder roads west of the 
Camino that reached into Michoacan, another important agricultural center. For 
the convenience of travelers and to prevent forcible expropriation of food supplies 
from Indian villages, the viceroy allowed concessionaires to operate a series of 
inns {ventas) along the Camino. Managed at various locations by Spanish ranchers, 
sedentary Indians, and members of New Spain's many religious orders, the ventas 
furnished food and resting places at regular intervals in otherwise uninhabited 
regions. They also provided some protection from nomadic raiders and brigands. 
In 1550, authorities granted one of the first licenses to Cristobal de Onate for an 
inn and grazing allotment ten leagues up the road from San Miguel. With his usual 
business acumen, Onate had been quick to recognize possibilities for profit from 
the stream of travellers following the Camino Real. 

At first, most of the supplies bound for Zacatecas were carried on the backs 
of Indian porters (tamemes), the same carriers who had provided basic transport 
in Mexico long before the Spaniards arrived. Although governmental officials 
frowned on the use of tamemes and tried to prohibit their exploitation, they 
continued in service until livestock numbers increased sufficiently to replace them. 
As additional animals became available, mule trains began to ply the Camino, 
loaded with agricultural products of all kinds. The muleteers, often Indians or 
mestizos, acted as middlemen between the farming villages in Nueva Galicia and 
Michoacan and the diverse population at the mines. Wheeled vehicles known as 
carretas and carros eventually took over most of the heavy hauling on the Camino 
because of their ability to carry bulky loads. Made almost entirely of wood, carretas 
were crude two-wheeled carts, usually drawn by a pair of oxen. Carros were larger 
and more complex, but historians disagree as to whether they were simply an 
enlarged model of the carreta or were built with four wheels, somewhat like the 
running gear of a Conestoga wagon. 

Not surprisingly, the nomadic tribesmen who inhabited the region bisected 
by the new highway regarded the Spanish intrusion into their hunting grounds as 
intolerable. Hostilities began late in 1550 with attacks by Zacatecos, Guachichile, 
and Guamare Indians on mule trains and wagons plying the Zacatecas road. The 


John 0. Baxter 


n0m>* <*, 


Figure 32. Oxen and carreta, photo by Ben Wittick, courtesy of Centennial Museum, UTEP. 


Agriculture and the Camino Real 

first raids were easily repulsed, but they marked the beginning of the great 
Chichimec War, a conflict that raged intermittently for fifty years. In 1561, after 
looting a number of haciendas, the natives attacked Sombrerete and San Martin, 
mining towns northwest of Zacatecas, and even cut off food supplies to Zacatecas 
itself These episodes of intensive warfare were interspersed with long periods of 
relative peace. During the 1 570s, Viceroy Martin Enrfquez de Almansa ordered the 
erection of several presidios beyond San Miguel, which ameliorated the risks to 
merchants and other travelers along the Camino. Although long and costly, the 
Chichimec War failed to discourage Spanish expansion in the north. 

Of the agricultural products exported to Zacatecas, the two staple food grains, 
maize and wheat, were the most important. For centuries before the Spanish 
conquest, maize had been the principal source of nourishment among the 
indigenous peoples throughout Mesoamerica. Although Spaniards much preferred 
white bread made from wheat flour to corn tortillas, during times of shortage they 
often preempted native maize supplies, causing much suffering among the Indians. 
At Zacatecas, the gangs of laborers working in the mines required substantial 
amounts of maize each day. A regulatory code issued in 1570 required employers 
of free Indians to give them a daily ration of a cuartillo (about 2 1/2 pounds) of 
maize, and an unspecified quantity of frijoles (beans). Also, during the dry season 
when pasture was short, the community needed additional maize to maintain the 
thousands of mules employed at the mines. As we have seen, some maize came 
from Michoacan and the Bajfo over the Camino Real and its feeder roads. 
Additional supplies arrived from sources nearer at hand, including the deep 
canyons to the southwest near Juchipila, which provided the warm and humid 
environment needed for maize production. East of the canyons, farmers from 
Aguascalientes and Lagos brought grain to Zacatecas. Northwest of the town, the 
Fresnillo region, which was watered by the absurdly named "Rio Grande," provided 
maize, wheat, and an assortment of garden produce: squash, chile, tomatoes, 
beans, cabbage, and lentils. 

Wheat was also in great demand. Once the conquistadores had successfully 
established themselves in New Spain, they began to yearn for some of the 
accustomed amenities left behind, particularly the taste of white bread. Tired of 
corn tortillas, the newcomers attempted to begin wheat production by persuading 
the Indians to sow a few seeds beside their maize plants. The experiment failed, 
however, because of basic differences between the two cereals, exacerbated by 
native apathy. Unlike maize, which usually did well enough with only seasonal 
rains, wheat almost always needed irrigation. To raise a satisfactory crop required 
careful supervision of the Indian labor force throughout the entire growing cycle. 
In the Bajfo, hacendados usually plowed their fields in early fall and planted wheat 


John 0. Baxter 

around the first of November. Usually, three irrigations were required: in 
November, either just before or soon after sowing; when the first sprigs emerged 
in January; and in March. The harvest took place in May. Raising a winter crop 
eliminated the danger of infestation by el chahuistle or la roya, folk terms for stem 
rust, a fungal plant disease that destroys wheat and spreads rapidly during hot, 
humid weather. 

Although Zacatecas became renowned for the quality of its white bread during 
the colonial era, much of the grain for its manufacture came from distant places. 
After 1550, as mentioned previously, wagon trains loaded with wheat toiled up 
the Camino Real toward Zacatecas from such Bajfo towns as Queretaro, Celaya, 
and other points in the Lerma and Laja valleys. Undaunted by an arduous 240-mile 
haul that greatly inflated costs, producers there effectively used economies of scale 
to retain market share well into the late seventeenth century, despite competition 
from new sources closer at hand. As the Chichimec War came to an end, the 
Spanish Crown approved a number of large land grants in the Bajio and other areas 
recently evacuated by the Indians. Many of these grants were subsequently 
consolidated into the great haciendas, which became the dominant socioeconomic 
institution of that era. In addition to grazing vast herds of livestock, many 
hacendados raised irrigated wheat for sale at the mines, thus beginning 
commercial agriculture in New Spain. Substantial capital resources enabled them 
to design and construct the large-scale water projects needed to irrigate their 

Extension of the Camino Real to Zacatecas mitigated, but did not eliminate, 
problems resulting from food shortages at the mines. As in Spain and other 
European countries, the Zacatecas cabildo (town council) assumed responsibility 
for controlling runaway prices. To prevent profiteering in grain during times of 

Figure 33. Acequia, by Charles Graham, courtesy ofMNM, negative no. 147650. 


Agriculture and the Camino Real 

scarcity, the cabildo relied on two institutions that had originated in the Middle 
Ages: the alhondiga and the posito. First established at Zacatecas in 1623, the 
alhondiga was a central grain market operated by municipal officials who 
supervised every sale of wheat and maize within the city. Dealing at other locations 
was illegal and subject to heavy fines. Producers paid an excise tax on each fanega 
delivered, and the proceeds funded various civic improvements. Occasionally, 
when supplies were short, officials waived the tax to discourage farmers from 
seeking more profitable markets elsewhere. By the end of the seventeenth century, 
the cabildo had surrendered management of the alhondiga to private 
entrepreneurs who secured biennial contracts for its operation through 
competitive bidding. 

Although the alhondiga helped to stabilize prices in the short run, it lacked 
the necessary storage capacity to supply the city for more than a week or so if 
deliveries were interrupted. In New Spain during the seventeenth century, local 
shortages sometimes caused food riots among the poor, such as the uprisings that 
devastated Mexico City in 1634 and 1692. To curb urban unrest in their town, the 
Zacatecas cabildo, in 1692, set up a facility known as a posito where they stored 
cheaply bought grain when supplies were ample. If hunger threatened, the city 
fathers offered provisions from the posito to the disadvantaged at reasonable 
prices. Not only a grain store, the posito also represented a sizable investment of 
the town's financial reserves. The original capital for its organization came from 
a loan of 61 00 pesos provided by a consortium of leading citizens. Later, the posito 
depended on tax revenues and occasional profits for operating funds, but financing 
proved to be a continual problem since grain supplies often sold below cost. 

Although they were not completely effective, the alhondiga and posito 
provided some relief from the soaring grain prices and food shortages that resulted 
from drought, crop failure, and Indian warfare. Construction of the Camino Real, 
however, was probably more significant in providing stability in the city's grain 
market. Although wild price swings took place from time to time, the cost of bread 
at Zacatecas remained fairly steady for more than one hundred years after the first 
silver strike, once a reliable transportation route had been established to the 

Iron plow point, sickles, and hoe. 


John 0. Baxter 

Suggested Reading 

Bakewell, Peter J. 

1971 Silver Mining and Society in Colonial Mexico: Zacatecas, 1546-1700. 
Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

Chevalier, Francois 

1 970 Land and Society in Colonial Mexico: The Great Hacienda. University of 
California Press, Berkeley. 

Florescano, Enrique 

1965 El Abasto y la Legislation de Granos en el Siglo XVI. Historia Mexicana 

Murphy, Michael E. 
,,„ 1 986 Irrigation in the Bajio Region of Colonial Mexico. Westview Press, Boulder 

% and London. 

Powell, Philip Wayne 

1952 Soldiers, Indians, and Silver. University of California Press, Berkeley. 

Simmons, Marc 

1983 Carros y Carretas: Vehicular Traffic on the Camino Real. In Hispanic Arts 
and Ethnohistory in the Southwest: New Papers Inspired by the Work ofE. Boyd, 
edited by Marta Weigle, Claudia Larcombe, and Samuel Larcombe, pp. 325- 
334. Ancient City Press, Santa Fe. 


12. Bernardo Gruber 

and the 
New Mexican Inquisition 

Joseph P. Sanchez 

This Bernardo Gruber . . . I found to have been imprisoned . . . since the 
nineteenth of April of the year 1668. . . . Fray Juan de Paz has not sent 
him to the Holy Tribunal; and at present it is almost impossible to send 
him for . . . the whole land is at war with the . . . Apache Indians, who 
kill all the Christian Indians they can find and encounter. No road is safe. 
Fray Juan Bernal, Santo Domingo Pueblo, 1 April 1670 

"The German" wrote eleven slips of paper, and . . Juan Martin also wrote. 
The papers had a cross on them and then these letters' 'ABN A"; then there 
was made another cross, and then the letters "ADNA" and finally a third 

Juan Nieto, Cuarac, 28 February 1668 

Between 1668 and 1670 the Holy Office of the Inquisition in New 
Mexico investigated its last case in the Jurisdiction of Salinas. Facing 
charges of superstition, Bernardo Gruber, a German trader from 
Sonora, suffered an ordeal at the hands of frontier Inquisition 
authorities that cost him his life. Aware that Gruber had been 
mistreated, officials of the Holy Tribunal in Mexico City moved to 
lessen the powers of local agents of the Holy Office in outlying 
provinces like New Mexico. By that time, however, Gruber was dead 
and his case closed. Along the dry wastelands north of El Paso, two 
place names, Jornada del Muerto and Aleman, have survived to remind 
New Mexicans of Bernardo Gruber's final test. 

Early on Christmas morning in 1 668, nineteen-year-old Juan Nieto, 
a mulatto, stood inside the kiva at Quarai as the older Indian men 
gathered curiously about him and watched the youth place a slip of 
paper with mysterious lettering in his mouth and swallow it. Holding 
an awl so that everyone could see it, he brought its sharp point down 


Joseph P. Sanchez 

Fray Juan Bernal, agent of the Holy Office (from Kiva, Cross, and Crown, NPS; Kessell 1979:213). 

swiftly on his hand and again on his wrist. In awe, the spectators watched the 
self-mutilation, but they were amazed that no blood flowed from his upturned 

Later, Juan went to the casa de comunidad, a communal lodging house in the 
pueblo. Upon entering, he saw his wife, Magdalena Montano, and two other 
people. Calmly, he swallowed another piece of paper, grabbed a dagger, and began 
to stab at his legs. Juan quickly explained his bizarre behavior by saying that he 
did not believe the slips of paper would protect him; he only pretended to stab 
himself with the dagger in order to fool those who saw him do it. At the time, Juan 
did not realize that this hoax would spell serious trouble for Bernardo Gruber, also 
known as El Aleman (the German). For Gruber, this was to be the beginning of a 
two-year nightmare. 

Just an hour before Juan Nieto's strange feats of "magic," Bernardo Gruber and 
his New Mexican friend Juan Martin Serrano were inside Nuestra Senora de la 
Purfsima Concepcion, the church of Quarai Pueblo, attending Christmas mass. As 
Fray Francisco de Salazar began to sing the Gospel Acclamation, Gruber and Martfn 
climbed up the choir loft ladder and approached the chorus members. Whispering 
to them, Gruber explained, "He who eats one of these slips of paper, will, from 
that hour of this first day to that same hour of the second day, be free from any 
harm, whether it be caused by knife or shot." Nodding to them with assurance, 
he pulled some slips of paper from his pocket, and on eleven of them he and Martfn 
wrote "tABNAtAKNAt". Nieto stepped forth and asked for one. 

After the Nieto incidents at the kiva and the casa de comunidad, Juan Martfn, 
who had acknowledged that the act of swallowing the slips of paper was one of 
superstition, challenged Gruber to test his belief in their power. As Martfn drew 
his sword, El Aleman unsheathed his weapon, yelling, "This is how the test should 


Bernardo Gruber 


be made!" As Nieto looked on, Martin backed down. Three days later, encouraged 
by his wife, Juan Nieto reported his behavior and the activities of Gruber to Fray 
Joseph de Paredes, the ministro guardian of San Buenaventura de las Humanas. By 
that time, the threat of a widespread practice of this superstitious activity had 
passed, for witnesses stated that Gruber had said the charm could only be worked 
on the first day of Christmas. Nonetheless, Father Paredes began the investigation 
of Bernardo Gruber's magic. 

Because of the cold weather, Gruber remained in the protected valley of the 
Manzano Mountains where he could graze his livestock and trade with the people 
of Quarai and Abo. As spring approached, Fray Juan de Paz, comisaho de Nuevo 
Mexico, the agent of the Holy Office of the Inquisition, who presided at the northern 
mission of Santo Domingo along the Rio Grande, demanded that Gruber remain 
at his present location and warned him not to flee. Undoubtedly the apprehensive 
German weighed the consequences of remaining in New Mexico any longer. 

Meanwhile Father Paz made a decision that would begin the severe testing of 
Bernardo Gruber. Unbeknown to El Aleman, his trial began on 19 April 1668, just 
after 7 P.M. Armed with a writ of arrest by order of the Holy Office, Captainjoseph 
Nieto, the alcalde mayor of the Jurisdiction of Salinas; Fray Gabriel Torija, the 
Franciscan minister of San Gregorio de Abo and notary for the Inquisition; and 
Juan and Joseph Martin Serrano departed Abo for Quarai to arrest Gruber. 

As night fell on the trail from Abo to Quarai, the four men walked through 
one of the many small valleys of the Salinas Jurisdiction. At about 10 P.M. they 
arrived at Quarai Pueblo. Entering the casa de comunidad, they found the 
unsuspecting Gruber, who had simultaneously entered the room through another 
door. In the dim candlelight, the blue-robed Fray Gabriel could see that the German 
was unarmed and held ajicara de agua (gourd of water) in his hands. Behind him 
was another man, Manuel Valencia, a visitor to Quarai. 

Stepping forward, Captain Nieto told Gruber that he was under arrest "by 
order of the Holy Office of the Inquisition." Gruber responded, "Very well," and 
submitted without a struggle. Next the captain asked him to surrender his 
weapons, a harquebus and a sword, which were leaning against one of the walls. 
The German also pulled a knife from his pocket and cautiously handed it over to 
Captain Nieto. Valencia was then told to leave, and he did so without speaking a 

While Captain Nieto and Fray Gabriel went out to saddle Gruber's horses, 
enough for all of them to ride, Joseph and Juan Martin stood guard over El Aleman. 


Joseph P. Sanchez 

Their silent prisoner was dressed in fine clothing, typical of the period. Gruber 
wore a jubon or doublet, which is a short-waisted jacket, and pantaloons with 
woolen stockings. To keep warm, the German wrapped himself with an elkskin 
overcoat. In a short while, Captain Nieto returned and gave the order to mount 
the horses. 

After midnight the small party arrived at Abo; the prisoner was taken to a small 
room for detention. Because the room lacked security, Gruber's guards, Joseph 
andjuan, were obliged to watch the room day and night until a more suitable place 
could be found. 

Later that day Fray Juan de Paz arrived, the agent of the Inquisition and a 
Franciscan Gruber had met once before. Captain Nieto and Juan Martin Serrano 
followed him into the cell. Fray Juan explained that he was there as a matter of 
routine to ask Gruber a few questions and to take inventory of his property. When 
this was done, Father Paz read the list to Gruber for verification: ten mules, thirteen 
stallions, five mares, three oxen, three Apache servants (two of them female and 
one of them a fourteen- or fifteen-year-old male, all of them non-Christians), 105 
pairs of assorted woolen socks, an embroidered pillow, fourteen pairs of 
understockings, two beautifully painted elkskins, and, of course, a sword, a 
harquebus, one knife, a powder belt, and a small ax. The list continued with 
eighty-eight elkskins, one tent made from several buckskins, three buckskin bags, 
two old saddles, one mule bridle, seven harnesses with ropes, and packsaddle 
pads. Before he approved the inventory, Gruber presented Paz with notes signed 
by seven individuals who owed him a total of ninety-two pesos. Gruber 
double-checked the list to make sure it was correct. 

Speaking to Paz, the German made several requests, the first of which named 
Sargento Mayor Francisco Valencia, alcalde mayor of the Jurisdiction of Isleta, as 
the executor of his property. Paz agreed. Gruber also asked that a representative 
be named to collect his debts. Because he was confident that he would be 
acquitted, Gruber requested that his case be expedited so he could get back to 
his business. Offering to pay the salaries of two guards, El Aleman proposed that 
he be sent to Mexico City as soon as possible so the Holy Tribunal of the Inquisition 
could hear his case. 

On May 14, Father Paz reported to the Holy Tribunal that Gruber had been 
held at Abo for nearly a month in a cell that did not have the necessary facilities 
to ensure his incarceration. The guards, under pain of excommunication, watched 
the cell door and window every moment of the day. Because Abo lacked a room 
large enough for the Inquisition to hold hearings on the matter, Father Paz 


Bernardo Gruber 

negotiated with Captain Francisco de Ortega, owner of the estancia (ranch) of San 
Nicolas in the Jurisdiction of Sandia Pueblo, to use his house. Four days later, the 
shackled prisoner was taken over a mountain road under heavy guard to Ortega's 
ranch. The captain met him at the door and politely extended his hospitality to 
the entire party, in accordance with Spanish custom. Gruber was led to a room 
that had one window with heavy wooden bars and one door. For the next 
twenty-five months this small room, albeit an improvement over his cell at Abo, 
would be his prison. 

He was fully aware of the testimony against him that had been taken in March. 
By that time Juan Nieto, the leading witness, had explained the hoax and affirmed 
the powerlessness of the formula that Gruber had given him. At least one witness 
shrugged off the incident by saying that Gruber had been drunk at the time. But 
to Paz the damning ingredients of the German's magic could not be put aside. 
After all, Gruber had promised immortality to Juan Nieto on a holy day inside a 
church while Mass was being said, and he had used a mysterious formula to work 
his charm. There would be no pardon for Gruber; he was remanded to his cell at 
Ortega's house on the Rio Abajo under the custody of the Inquisition. 

Almost two years passed without any action from the Inquisition authorities 
in New Mexico. If the officials of the Holy Office had any case against El Aleman, 
they had failed to present it. No new evidence or testimony had surfaced. Later, 
after harsh criticism from the Holy Tribunal in Mexico City about the inability of 
Friar Paz to bring the case to trial, his replacement, Fray Juan Bernal, responded 
that owing to drought, famine, and Apache raids it would have been difficult to 
transfer Gruber to Mexico. Instead, the German had languished in his little cell 
at Ortega's ranch. 

During that time, Gruber's property was loaned out to different individuals. 
Too weak to survive the winters of New Mexico, his stock began to die. Indians 
hired to care for his herds reported that five horses and one mule had died. InJune 
of 1668, Gruber's teenage Indian servant Atanasio, who had been given to the 
widow Maria Martin of the Salinas Jurisdiction, ran away. Father Torija made every 
effort to find him, but failed. 

After two years of imprisonment, a desperate Gruber began to plot his escape. 
Somehow he had managed to enlist two accomplices. One of them was his guard 
and debtor, Juan Martin Serrano. The other was Atanasio, who had secretly 
returned to help his former master. Juan's role was to smuggle supplies and a 
weapon to Gruber, while Atanasio would implement the escape plans. In the 
meantime, Gruber would complete his part of the plot. 


Joseph P. Sanchez 

A few days before the daring escape, Gruber called to his guards and 
complained of a sharp pain on his right side. He said he had some sort of liver 
ailment. In order to make him more comfortable the guards agreed to remove his 
shackles. The German further convinced his keepers of his failing health by refusing 
to eat for three days. As soon as he was alone, he began to loosen the wooden 
bars to his prison window. With his shackles removed and the heavy wooden bars 
loosened somewhat, Gruber waited for his accomplices to act. 

For three successive nights before the escape, a servant of Captain Ortega 
named Nicolasillo, from the Humanas nation, observed Juan Martin Serrano ride 
his horse to the smithy on the Ortega ranch, dismount, and tie his horse to an iron 
ring. As usual, Martfn went to Gruber's window and handed him supplies. A loaf 

Figure 34. Seal of the Mexican Inquisition (from Kiva, Cross, and Crown, NPS; Kessell 1979:172). 


Bernardo Gruber 

of sugar, a small bag with toasted ground maize, a bag of gunpowder, and three 
rounds of shot were passed to him through the bars of his jail. On the last night, 
the German received the harquebus belonging to Captain Ortega, who lay asleep 
near the cell. Juan had completed his part of the plan. 

At midnight on Sunday, 22 June 1670, Atanasio made his way into Ortega's 
corral, saddled two horses, and separated three others for the escape. Sneaking 
past the sleeping guard, Atanasio reached Gruber's window. Quietly they worked 
to remove the bars. The German handed his supplies to the waiting Apache and 
then climbed out. It had taken longer than they had anticipated. By the time they 
led their horses out of the corral, it was nearly three in the morning. 

Riding south through the bosques of the Sandiajurisdiction, the two horsemen 
followed the Camino Real. After several leagues they came to a fork in the road. 
One of the roads led to the house of Thome Domfnguez de Mendoza, an 
encomendero of the area, nearly a league away. They were getting close to Isleta 
Pueblo. Suddenly, E! Aleman's heart must have skipped a beat; he saw a rider 
coming toward them! It was Francisco, son of Thome. They greeted each other. 
Gruber said, "Don't tell anyone you have seen me." The good-natured Francisco 
agreed, then offered them better riding horses. Gruber refused, saying, "I 
appreciate your offer, but we'd best get on, it's getting late." Francisco watched 
in the pale light of dawn as they rode away. 

Hours later, at the estancia of San Nicolas, Ortega awakened from his slumber. 
Passing near Gruber's cell, he noticed the broken window bars. Quickly he opened 
the cell door and saw that Gruber was gone. After a fruitless search of the general 
vicinity, Ortega dashed off a message to Captain Alonso de Garcfa, alcalde mayor 
of the Sandfa Jurisdiction, informing him of the escape. Running his horse at a 
gallop, Ortega went south to the Camino Real, where he picked up Gruber's trail. 
He stopped at Francisco Valencia's hacienda to alert him of Gruber's escape. Riding 
hard from there, Ortega followed the trail leading to Domfnguez de Mendoza's 
house. A short while later, a tired Ortega arrived at Don Thome's doorstep and 
told him about Gruber. Thome listened but refused to aid in the search; he believed 
that Gruber had suffered enough. Angry, Ortega mounted his jaded horse and 
returned to his ranch. Without horses and supplies he could not pursue Gruber 
into the hot maJpais that lay to the south. 

On June 24, Ortega departed his ranch for Pecos. Riding northeast, he arrived 
at the mission four days later. There Fray Juan Bernal, the commissary of the 
Inquisition, received him. Ortega explained that Gruber had escaped from his 
house near Sandfa Pueblo and that he had followed the trail as far south as 


Joseph P. Sanchez 

Domfnguez de Mendoza's ranch. Hopes for catching Gruber had been dashed by 
Don Thome's refusal to help. After listening to Ortega, Friar Bernal offered an idea. 
In a few days, messengers were sent south to the agents of the Holy Office in 
Chihuahua and Sonora advising them to apprehend Gruber should he enter their 
jurisdictions. After his conference at Pecos, Ortega went to Santa Fe to tell 
Governor Juan de Medrano y Mesias (1668-1671) about Gruber's flight into the 
despoblado. Nine days had passed since the German's escape before Captain 
Cristobal de Anaya, under the governor's orders to pursue the fugitive as far as El 
Paso del Norte, led eight soldiers and forty Christian Indians southward. 

Many miles from them, however, Bernardo Gruber's life had already come to 

an end. A lone Atanasio rode into Mission Senecu not far from Socorro. There he 

was apprehended by Anaya. Atanasio confessed his story to Fray Francisco Nicolas 

Hurtado, ministro de doctrina del Convento de Senecu. The Apache picked up the 

narrative at the fork in the Camino Real after they had left Francisco Domfnguez 

t ; de Mendoza. Riding day and night through Tuesday, June 24, they passed the feast 

2| day of San Juan on the trail somewhere near Senecu. That night they camped at a 

(> place called Fray Cristobal. The next day they pulled their tired horses through the 

hot wasteland to Las Penuelas, which was waterless. They arrived there at about 
4 P.M., when the sun was still high. Exhausted, thirsty, and dusty, Gruber, unable 
to travel any farther, sent young Atanasio in search of water. "Bring it back in a 
jfcara," he said hoarsely. In case of danger, he gave his harquebus to the Apache, 
who traveled a full day to the water hole at San Diego, reaching it at middday on 

At the water hole, Atanasio filled the jug and rode back toward Las Penuelas. 
But on the way the jfcara broke, and Atanasio returned to San Diego for water. 
The only way he had to carry water was to soak his sudador (saddle blanket). When 
Atanasio finally arrived at Las Penuelas on Friday morning, Gruber was gone! He 
had taken only one horse south along the Camino Real; the other three were still 
there. The youth spent the rest of Friday and Saturday in an unsuccessful search 
for El Aleman. Returning to Senecu, Atanasio went to the convento to report 
Gruber's disappearance. 

After listening to the young Apache, Fray Francisco ordered four Indians to 
take Atanasio to Pedro de Leyba, the alcalde mayor of the Jurisdiction of Senecu 
in Socorro. From there he was transferred to Sandfa Pueblo, where he was 
interrogated by Fray Pedro de Ayala and Padre Bernal. At first Atanasio claimed to 
be the sole accomplice in the escape of Bernardo Gruber. But Fray Pedro, who was 
aware of Nicolasillo's testimony, was able to implicate Juan Martfn Serrano as well. 
Soon after his interrogation, Atanasio ran away. Father Ayala believed that he had 


Bernardo G ruber 

returned to Sonora. Later it would be said, without proof, that Atanasio had killed 

Although Leyba and seven Indians also searched the despoblado in vain for 
Gruber, what were believed to be the German's remains were found quite by 
accident by another group of men near a point that would later bear the place 
name Aleman. New Mexican lore would commemorate the trail as the Jornada del 
Muerto (The Dead Man'sjourney). Almost three weeks after his escape, five traders 
on the way to Parral in Chihuahua passed between Las Penuelas and El Perillo. One 
of them, Captain Andres de Peralta, strayed from the group, then called out to his 
companions that he had found something. Francisco del Castillo Betancur, who 
knew Gruber well, was with them. Writing from Parral to a friend in New Mexico 
in September 1670, Castillo described what he had seen: 



Figure 35. Detail of Mier ay Pacheco's 1758 map. 


Joseph P. Sanchez 

I went to him and found a roan horse tied to a tree by a halter. It was 
dead and near it was a doublet or coat of blue cloth lined with otter skin. 
There were also a pair of trousers of the same material, and other 
remnants of clothing that had decayed. I examined them, and it seemed 
that they belonged to Bernardo Gruber, the fugitive. I made a search 
which did not result in vain, for I found at once all of his hair and the 
remnants of clothing which he had worn. I and my companions searched 
carefully for the bones, and found in very widely separated places the 
skull, three ribs, two long bones, and two other little bones which had 
been gnawed by animals. This, sir, occurred on Wednesday the thirtieth 
of the month of July of this present year. It is supposed that an Indian 
who was traveling with Bernardo Gruber killed him. 

Castillo and his companions took Gruber's remains to El Paso del Norte. There, 
outside a mission site, La Conversion de los Mansos y Sumas, the bones were 
buried by the resident priest. Nine years later, after Gruber's case was officially 
closed, the fiscal of the Holy Tribunal in Mexico ordered the remainder of his 
property in New Mexico to be sold at an auction and that from the proceeds "mass 
might be said for the soul of the said Bernardo, and that his bones might be given 


an ecclesiastical burial." 

Gruber's was the last Inquisition case investigated in the Jurisdiction of 
Salinas. In retrospect, the Gruber case had significant consequences for the history 
of the Inquisition in New Mexico and other similar frontier areas. In condemning 
Friar Paz's conduct, characterized as "gross ignorance and lack of attention to the 
obligations of his office," the Holy Tribunal in Mexico City decreed that the local 
commissaries of New Mexico and other areas no longer had authority to make 
arrests without express orders from the Holy Office of the Inquisition (Scholes 
1942:321). Consequently, only one other Inquisition case was prosecuted in New 
Mexico during the decade prior to the Pueblo Revolt of 1 680. 


1 . Originally published in The Rio Abajo Frontier, 1540-1692, Albuquerque Museum, 
Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

2. Declaration of Joseph Nieto, Santo Domingo, 19 January 1667, AGN, Inq. 666, 
f. 375. 

3. Declaration of Juan Martin Serrano, ibid., f. 380. Testimony of Joseph Nieto, 
Santo Domingo, 9 January 1667, AGN, Inq. 608, f. 435. 


Bernardo Gruber 

4. Contestation, Cuarac, 8 February 1668, AGN, Inq. 608, f. 436. 

5. Declaration of Juan Martin Serrano, ibid., f. 380. Inquiry signed by Fray Joseph 
de Paredes, Abo, 21 June 1668, AGN, Inq. 666, f. 387. 

6. Testimony of Fray Gabriel Torija, Joseph Martfn Serrano and Juan Martin 
Serrano in AGN, Inq. 666 and 608. 

7. Ibid. Also see, Writ of Arrest, Abo, 19 April 1668, AGN, Inq. 608, f. 390. 

8. Inventory of Gruber' s sequestered property, AGN, Inq. 608 and 666. 

9. Autos sent by Frayjuan Bernal to Mexico City, AGN, Inq. 608, f. 333. Also see, 
AGN, Inq. 666, f. 406. 

10. Ibid. Also see AGN, Inq. 590 for similar commentary. 

1 1. Signed statement by Fray Gabriel de Torija, 9 June 1668, Cuarac, AGN, Inq. 
666, f. 399. 

12. Declaration of Atanasio, Sandia, 8 July 1 670, AGN, Inq. 666, f. 41 1 . 

13. Testimony of Captain Francisco de Ortega, Pecos, 30 June 1670, AGN, Inq. 
666, f. 406. 

14. Undated letter of Frayjuan Bernal, AGN, Inq. 666, f. 404. 

15. Declaration of Atanasio, Sandfa, 8 July 1670, AGN, Inq. 666, f. 411. 

16. Statement by Frayjuan Bernal, 30 June 1670, AGN, Inq. 666, f. 408. 

17. Declaration of Atanasio, Sandia, 8 July 1670, AGN, Inq 666, ff. 411-412. 

18. Francisco del Castillo Betancur to Dr. Juan de Ortega, El Parral, 1 September 
1670, AGN, Inq. 666, f. 402. 

19. Ibid. 

20. Ibid. 




j 31 
> . 

13. "Purchased in 
Chihuahua for Feasts" 

David H. Snow 

On 7 February 1598, under the leadership of Juan de Onate, 83 
wagons and carts filled with an impressive array of personal and trade 
goods, equipment, and supplies, accompanied by some four thousand 
head of cattle, sheep, and goats, horses, and mules; 129 soldiers, their 
wives, children and assorted Mexican Indian and mulatto servants, 
along with ten friars, marched northward from Santa Barbara toward 
the northern Rio Grande valley in New Mexico (see Chapter 4 for 
additional details). That entourage must have cut a highly visible swath 
across the terrain as it worked its way northward into what is now the 
United States; whatever its exact route, it was the initial imprint of the 
Camino Real between Santa Fe and the Mexican interior. 

Over this grandiloquently named cart trail and cattle path for the 
next roughly 225 years moved the wherewithal by which the colonial 
frontier maintained a semblance of civilization and, more important, 
of "Spanishness." Supplies, equipment and tools, household 
furnishings, and personal items in the form of necessities or luxuries 
from Europe, China, or elsewhere in the New World were carried in 
large quantities over this trail into northern New Mexico by local 
merchants and entrepreneurs well into the mid-nineteenth century. 

Initially the six-month journey from Mexico, through the staging 
settlements located in the Inde and Santa Barbara valleys in southern 
Chihuahua, was supported by the Crown and supplied mission and 
colonist alike. The missions were supplied once every three years, but 
wagon trains with military escorts bringing new colonists and goods 
were more frequent, as individual colonists, civil administrators, and 
an increasing number of merchants moved back and forth in an effort 
to enhance their position and fulfill personal aspirations in this 
unfamiliar and often hostile natural and cultural environment. 


David H. Snow 

This brief overview of the highlights of that trade, supported by the exchange 
of mundane subsistence products of New Mexican colonial endeavors, identifies 
some of those merchants and the nature of the necessities and luxuries critical to 
the well-being and self-esteem of the vecinos (residents) of far northern New Spain. 

Colonists, Missions, and Politicians 

The inventories of personal equipment, tools, clothing, and other personal 
effects taken north by Onate's men and their families in 1598 provide some idea 
of the value associated, for example, with proper dress and other personal 
accoutrements worthy of Spanish conquerors. A complete declaration of what 
Captain Alonso de Quesada took "to serve his majesty in New Mexico" in 1598 
follows (also see Chapter 7); for comparison, the belongings of a common soldier, 
Juan Ruiz de Caceres, are also listed (Hammond and Rey 1953:252-253, 534-535). 

Alonso de Quesada: First, two male servants and a woman servant married to 
one of the males; personal armor consisting of one fine coat of mail, beaver, 
cuisses, and a jacket, all of excellent mail; one good native harquebus and 
accessories, together with two pounds of powder and four of shot; one short lance 
and a captain's lance; a sword and dagger; some fine horse armor of buckskin; one 
strong leather shield; three jineta saddles and one good estradiota saddle; four 
cavalry horses; two team mules and two team horses; twelve ordinary horses, 
fifteen mares, and one jackass; two tents, one with 54 varas of frieze cloth; one 
bed, two blankets, a bedspread ofgreen cloth, four sheets, four pillows, a mattress 
and bedding bag of frieze; four suits, one of purple velvet with a short cloak of 
pale green Castilian cloth, one of coarse plain gray Castilian cloth, one of fine 
monk's cloth lined with yellow damask and trimmed with silver braids, and the 
last of plain greenish cloth; four hats, two expensive and two plain; six doublets, 
two of silk and two of linen, two buff; four pairs of stockings, of various colors, 
and four woolen; ten linen shirts; four pairs of linen breeches; three towels; three 
pairs of sleeves and three of garters; two under-waistcoats for the mail; needles, 
thimbles, scissors, white thread, and silk thread of all colors; one gross of buttons 
and six dozen ribbons; three boxes of knives; six bridles, three of local make; one 
hundred cakes of soap; ten pairs of cordovan leather shoes; three pairs of cordovan 
buskins and some white boots; two pairs of calfskin boots and six pairs of calfskin 
shoes; three pairs of spurs; one dozen pairs of horse and mule shoes with three 
hundred nails; a set of horseshoeing tools; two halters, girths, and two cruppers; 
eight sacks of frieze; an iron bar; two currycombs; an ax for firewood; one large 
boiler, one olla and one comal all of copper; one grinding stone, three pewter 
plates and one large brass mortar; some pincers to mend the meshes of a coat of 
mail and punches and tools for making arms; seven books, religious and 


"Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts" 

non-religious; further, one soldier armed at my expense, with all his equipment, 
including harquebus, beaver, coat of mail, cuisses, horse-armor, saddles, horses, 
clothes, and foot gear. 

Juan Ruiz de Caceres: One sword; one harquebus, with accessories; one beaver 
and coat of mail; two suits of clothes; two pairs of boots; four pairs of shoes; six 
horses; and some horse armor. 

In addition to the formally organized and controlled mission supply trains 
(discussed in Chapter 6), a certain amount of trade was controlled by New Mexico's 
early governors, whose official capacity provided an opportunity for the 
unscrupulous accumulation of quantities of local products, such as "hides, coarse 
textiles, salt, and pinon, and a goodly number of [Indian] slaves to be resold in 
New Spain" (Scholes 1935:1 10, 1936:328; also see Hackett 1937:47, 68-69). Along 
with cattle and sheep — most of which were in the hands of the church personnel, 
who "had more stock than the citizens" (Scholes 1935:107-108; also see Hackett 
1937:69) — these items were the stock-in-trade of New Mexico's 
seventeenth-century exchange system with the interior of Mexico. 

Among the more notorious of the commercially minded governors of the 
period were Juan Lopez de Mendizabal, Luis de Rosas, and Diego de Penalosa. 
Lopez, for example, was said to have set up "a store in the Casa Real in Santa Fe, 
where he did an extensive business" (Scholes 1937:380). Following his arrest by 
Penalosa, Lopez' successor, among his effects were listed 410 libras of chocolate, 
"the remainder of a large supply that Lopez had brought from New Spain for sale" 
(Scholes 1940:258). More significant, Penalosa also seized silver bullion valued at 
2904 pesos, "the proceeds of goods sold in Sonora for Lopez' account," as well as 
an unsettled claim by Lopez against Francisco Xavier "for goods sold in Parral" 
(Scholes 1940:258-259). Penalosa and his agents illegally purchased these and 
other goods from Lopez' storehouses, and an amount totaling five cartloads was 
destined for resale in Parral, Zacatecas, and Mexico City. Two of Penalosa's 
servants, Lucas de Villasante and Tomas de Granillo, were in charge of the 
shipment, with Villasante and Pedro Martinez de Moya listed as "owners." Part of 
the gross had been consigned to Penalosa's agents in Nueva Vizcaya, but sacks of 
pinon nuts and other items were "sent as gifts to various persons in Mexico City, 
including the viceroy, oidores ("hearer"; judge), treasury officials, and friends of the 
governor" (Scholes 1 940:261 ). An embargo was placed on the shipment in January 
1663, presumably because Penalosa's seizure of the goods from the former 
governor was illegal, but Martinez de Moya presented witnesses to prove his 
ownership. These witnesses testified that "Martinez had been engaged in trade 
between Parral and New Mexico . . . [and] that he had purchased the goods sent 


David H. Snow 

in the carts with the proceeds of European and Mexican products sold in Santa Fe" 
(Scholes 1940:261), but it was well known that Penalosa was the owner and that 
the goods in question had formerly belonged to Lopez de Mendizabal (additional 
claims against Penalosa regarding his commercial activities are detailed in Scholes 

Luis de Rosas, who was murdered by citizens of Santa Fe in 1 642, was accused 
of forcing both Indians and Spanish citizens to work in sweatshops and weave 
coarse woolen and cotton fabrics, primarily blankets and stockings, for him to sell 
in the Mexican interior (as did Lopez de Mendizabal). Rosas was said to have turned 
the Casas Reales into a public tavern where wine and chocolate were sold (Scholes 
1936:329). Rosas employed a merchant-freighter, Enrique Lopez, who claimed 
residence in both Santa Fe and Parral. During these troublous times in 
seventeenth-century New Mexico, some of the citizens were also accused of 
collusion with the governors. Juan Gomez Robledo and his brother, Andres, were 
said to have stored a large quantity of pinon nuts, tribute from the Pueblos, for 
Governor Penalosa (Chavez 1954:37). In the other direction, Juan Gomez de Luna 
and Matias Romero were charged with illicit trafficking among the Plains Indians 
for Governor Rosas (Chavez 1954:64, 97). 


Figure 36. Wagon train, from Simonin, Le Tour de Monde, courtesy of 
Western History Department, Denver Public Library. 


"Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts' 

Yet a third system operated in seventeenth-century New Mexico, one that 
survived and ultimately linked the Camino Real with the commercial interests of 
the Santa Fe Trail trade of nineteenth-century fame. This network involved 
individual colonists and entrepreneurs moving goods between Santa Fe and the 
interior. By the mid-seventeenth century a local citizen, Andres Lopez de Gracia 
(perhaps related to the earlier Enrique Lopez, freighter-merchant for Luis de 
Rosas), was reported to have had wagons running between Santa Fe and Mexico 
City (Chavez 1954:55), and in 1669, Bernardo Gruber, "a native of Germany and a 
resident of the mines of Sonora . . . came to these provinces [of New Mexico] to 
sell merchandise and other trifles which this kingdom lacks" (Hackett 1937:271). 
Although the trifles are not detailed, when he was arrested on charges ofwitchcraft 
his effects were seventeen saddle- and pack-mules, thirteen horses and mares, 
thirteen pairs of fine stockings and socks, painted buckskins, 88 large buckskins, 
and a list of 92 pesos owed him by local residents (also see Chapter 12). 

More mundane charges were leveled against Antonio de Carbajal, who was 
accused of "profiteering" along with his relatives of the Duran y Chavez clan. Diego 
Domfnguez de Mendoza and his brother (whose mother was a sister of Pedro 
Duran y Chavez) were apparently involved in "black-market operations," primarily 
in the movement of cattle for sale in Parral (Chavez 1954). Pedro Duran y Chavez 
himselfwas reputed to have sold imported goods from Mexico at exorbitant prices, 
in addition to having stockpiled local products for local resale, at equally 
exorbitant prices (Hackett and Shelby 1942:177). Old Pedro was a baker by trade 
with a household, in 1680, of more than thirty servants and uncounted numbers 
of Indian laborers. 

Few documents survived the Pueblo Revolt of 1680; what little information 
exists concerning the mercantile activities of the period is contained in 
miscellaneous Inquisition records and the residencia papers of former governors. 
Consequently, the role of the individual colonists in these affairs is virtually 
unknown, and our picture of the times is decidedly biased by the charges and 
countercharges hurled between civil and religious authorities, such as the 

For the religious it is an interminable process, for [Governor Lopez de 
Mendizabal] has tried to make us his small merchants, and to have his 
trading conducted in various places through the hands of the religious, 
so that we are buying and selling such products as are in this unhappy 
land in exchange for his knives. Many days before he was received he 
visited the convents, leaving in all through which he passed a large 


David H. Snow 

number of knives, which the religious were to sell for antelope skins. He 
also obliged them to plant fields of cotton for him (Hackett 1937:130). 

Antelope skins and woven cotton mantas and blankets had a ready market in Parral 
and Sonora in the seventeenth century. 

The continual detailing of abuses and excesses on the part of both sides in 
this bitter and divisive argument was cut short only by the successful revolt of the 
beleaguered Pueblo Indians in August of 1 680. As a result, for the next twelve years 
traffic along the Camino Real moved only between El Paso del Norte and the 
Mexican interior. 

'They AH Want to Be Merchants'' 

One Mexican viceroy commented that in eighteenth-century New Spain 
everyone wanted to be rich, "y para serlo quieren todos ser mercaderes" (and in order 
for it to be [to become rich] they all wanted to be merchants; cited in Brading 
1 985: 1 35). According to another observer, most Spaniards in Mexico preferred to 
own a small shop or roadside stand (Brading 1 985: 1 35). The same author provides 
information on the backgrounds of fifty newly created titles of nobility conferred 
on residents of New Spain in the eighteenth century, the sole criterion being 
wealth and what it could buy; of those, 20% were listed as comerciantes (merchants; 
Brading 1985:283). In 1709, of forty heads of household listed as vecinos of the 
mining district of Santa Eulalia, outside of Chihuahua, 17.5% were either full- or 
part-time merchants; by the late sixteenth century the mercantile network from 
the interior was already reaching rapidly northward along the Camino Real across 
the lower reaches of the Gran Chichimeca, through Nueva Galicia, and into Nueva 
Vizcaya. Between 1590 and 1630, for example, in Queretaro alone more than 
twenty-five merchants were resident; by the mid-eighteenth century in that 
community were 149 comerciantes, sixty of whom were peninsulares (native 
Iberians; Super 1983:108-109). According to West (1949:83), thirty-seven 
merchants' shops comparable to the general stores in frontier communities of the 
American West served a mere eight hundred vecinos of the Parral district in 1639. 

During the colonial period in Mexico the independent storekeeper, normally 
a vecino of the local community, was supplied with local products and goods 
obtained through local trade or from agents of Mexico City comerciantes and 
itinerant merchants and freighters. Larger stores may have been owned and 
operated by dealers (comerciantes) in Mexico City, but in New Mexico, at least, 
the independent entrepreneur, like Pedro Duran y Chavez, and the 
freighter-merchants, like Enrique and Andres Lopez, appear to have been the 


"Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts" 

norm. In 1650, 40 of the 56 merchants in Parral claimed permanent residence; the 
rest apparently operated stores as agents of large Mexican firms and were 
themselves vecinos of the capital (West 1949:129). 

Many of New Mexico's merchants in the late seventeenth century were 
immigrants to the region who maintained close ties with the trading centers along 
the Camino Real, specifically in Chihuahua and Parral. Among the more famous of 
these local merchants was the Frenchman Juan de Archibeque (Jean l'Archiveque), 
who had accompanied La Salle from the Midwest to the coast of Texas and was 
among the few survivors captured by Spanish authorities and returned for trial to 
Mexico City. He was banished to the frontier of New Mexico and became a resident 
of Santa Fe. At the time of his death in 1720 as a member of the ill-fated Villasur 
expedition to the Plains, Captain Archibeque was also "a merchant in this Kingdom" 
of New Mexico, concerned with his affairs, "as much within as without this 


kingdom, with the traffic of his goods." 

Included in the merchandise inventoried after his death were six spoons and 
six forks and a salt-cellar, all of silver, weighing all together 2 pounds and 3 ounces; 
silk cloth, Campeachy [Campeche] blankets, a paper packet with fifteen dozen 
waistcoat buttons of silver thread, 6 1/2 varas of English linen (almost 18 feet), 
three pieces of Rouen linen (of more than 62 varas in length, or slightly more than 
170 feet), 13 1/2 dozen women's shoes, 68 bundles of tobacco, and ten books of 
accounts owed him. His personal effects included "a small white elk skin bag with 
fifty-four ingots and 'tepuscos' of gold, large and small, which weighed sixty-six 
pounds and twelve ounces" (a tepusque was a small illegal copper coin used in the 
early years of colonial Mexico). 

At the time ofjuan's death, his son Miguel was on his way to Sonora to deliver 
productos de la tierra. New Mexican products, consisting of 309 pairs of locally made 
stockings, 36 "chamois" skins (Rocky Mountain bighorn sheepskins?), 1 1 painted 
elk-skins, 28 buffalo hides, four leather jackets, twelve thick elk-skins, and seven 
blankets of coarse cloth. Miguel continued his father's trade, and in a 1727 will 
executed by Salvador Montoya of Santa Fe, Montoya noted that Miguel owed him 
a horse used for trading purposes. Among Miguel's creditors were Diego Belasco, 
Santiago de [Laguers ?], Pedro de [Almuino ?], Pedro de la Sierra, Francisco 
Romero, Feliz [Gueron ?], Salvador de Casseres [?], and Joseph Del Villar, all 
residents and traders in Parral. 

Montoya was also engaged in commercial trading, for he declared among his 
effects twelve mules broken to the rein, eight packsaddles, seven broken horses, 
fifty-five tanned buckskins, four white buffalo skins, and three thick buffalo skins. 


David H. Snow 

Figure 37. Oscar Schiller with G.W. Hodge's mule team, courtesy ofMNM, negative no. 14875. 

He declared also that "various residents of this Kingdom of New Mexico owe me 
as is on record in two memorandum books where their names are set down," in 
the amount of four hundred pesos. Furthermore, he stated that Javier Romero, 
resident of Santa Cruz de la Canada, "owes me twenty pesos in silver or coins, and 
if he does not pay the same he will have to bring me twenty-three varas of flowered 
Rouen linen, and if he does not comply with said trade he will have to deliver a 
young sorrel-colored male mule with the brand of [Miguel] Archiveque and the 
cost of transportation for said mule." 

Other eighteenth-century merchants or traders in northern New Mexico 
included Francisco Afan de Ribera Betanzos, native of Mexico City and resident of 
Santa Cruz de la Canada in 1718 (Chavez 1954:266); Juan Bautista Duran de 
Bachicha, a "European" merchant and resident of the Pajarito district below 
Albuquerque from the 1740s to 1782; Clemente Gutferrez, also of Pajarito, along 
with his son-in-law Jose Mariano de la Pefia, merchant and native of Mexico City 
(1780s— 1 790s); Juan Bautista Pino and his two adult sons, Mateo and Joaqufn, also 
of Mexico City and resident in the San Clemente area below Pajarito in the period 
ca. 1 740-1 750; Juan Felipe de Rivera of Santa Fe, who sometime prior to his death 
about 1770 had "departed for Chiguagua . . . [with a "small money-bag of silver," 
and] ... a quantity of chamois skins, and stockings and other local products which 


"Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts" 

he invested in Chiguagua in merchandise"; and Jose Rafael Sarracino, merchant 
and native of Chihuahua, resident in Santa Fe in the 1790 census (Olmsted 1979). 

The number of merchants, particularly in Santa Fe, appears to have increased 
substantially during the first half of the nineteenth century. By then, Juan Bautista 
Pino had moved to Santa Fe (1823 census; Olmsted 1979) and was still listed as a 
merchant; his nephews, Manuel Doroteo and Justo Pastor Pino, were also 
merchants in town (1841 census; Vigil n.d.). Also residing in the barrio de San 
Francisco in Santa Fe in 1841 were Juan Manuel Baca, Luis and Antonio Rubidoux, 
Tomas Ortiz, and Mateo Sandoval, merchants and "estranjeros." Among the more 
famous of Santa Fe's early nineteenth century merchants was Manuel Delgado, 
whose 1815 estate was inventoried on three legal-size pages listing merchandise 
on hand at his death. 

"Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts" 

The type of goods that moved north into New Mexico and south to Chihuahua 
and Parral (and, often, to Sonora) is apparent to some extent in the foregoing 
accounts. Imports represent practical, utilitarian tools, equipment, household 
items, and a range of luxury goods, primarily clothing and textiles. The latter 
consisted of materials made in New Spain as well as yard goods imported from 
Europe and China. In return, New Mexicans sold coarse, locally made textiles and 
clothing (mostly stockings), hides, and aside from animals on the hoof, occasional 
subsistence foods produced locally. Among the latter is an interesting item 
mentioned in the last will and testament of Juan Manuel Gavaldon, a resident of 
Santa Fe in 1745: 

I declare being indebted to Don Pedro Gandanela in the sum of four 
hundred and more pesos in silver . . . for whose payment forty-five fanegas 
of tomatoes were placed in the possession of Don Pedro Almayua and 
placed in forty-seven sacks [taking into account] the shrinkage that 
[occurs] in said tomatoes, and having an agreement with Don Pedro 
Almayua, that if the above amount has not been satisfied, for reason of 
being unable to sell the tomatoes, or if the amount has been satisfied 
from the tomatoes, the balance, if any, shall be turned over to me by Don 
Pedro Almayua. 

In 1 771 , at least one trader had considerable traffic with local Pueblo Indians 
as well as with vecinos in the area. Miguel Romero was a rural merchant in the 
small community of Canada de Cochiti, some thirty miles west of Santa Fe but only 
a short distance from the Camino Real. In his last will and testament he declared 


David H. Snow 

as goods "for commerce at my house" one hundred large, fifty small, and thirty 
even smaller buckskins; a piece of woolen cloth and a piece of "fine" scarlet cloth 
for a lapel; 82 varas of carpet (approximately 225 feet); 10 varas of linen; and 
sixteen knives, in addition to 163 cattle and horses, including pack- and 
saddle-mules and horses, breeding cows and mares, and "broken" bulls. 

In circumstances reminiscent of Governor Lopez de Mendizabal's 
seventeenth-century tactics among the missions (see above), Miguel had ten knives 
on consignment in the possession of Jose Chinago, almost certainly a Pueblo 
Indian, in addition to ten with Nicolas, "Indian" (of the Pueblo of Cochiti); nine with 
Jose Tegua of that pueblo; twelve with Antonico, "son of the Che"; four at the house 
of Lorenzo from Zia; and ten with Gallego from San Felipe. The list of products 
owed him on account suggests the importance of the local merchant to the Pueblo 
Indians and, more important, the importance of the latter to the local economy: 
Basilio and his mother-in-law, of Santo Domingo, sixteen large buckskins and one 
cart of corn; Lucas of Santo Domingo, two large buckskins at 2 pesos each, and 
Miguelito, of the same pueblo, one large buckskin; Lorenzo and those "of his 
household" at Zia, fourteen buckskins at 2 pesos each, seven small ones, and two 
blankets; the son of Miguel Chapeton, also of Zia, one large buckskin; Melchor of 
Santa Ana, one large and one small buckskin, and a three-year-old bull; Gallego of 
San Felipe, three large buckskins; at Cochiti Pueblo he was owed fourteen 
buckskins, a cow and calf, and one fat ox, by Baltazar, Jose Tegua, Vicente, and 
Gervasio; and listed simply as "the Indian," Che, his son Antonio, Sambrano, and 
Jose collectively owed eighteen large and five small buckskins. 

Among the everyday items one might expect to find in a well-stocked frontier 
mercantile store are the following items owned by Manuel Delgado at his death 
in Santa Fe in 1815: wool carders, looms, spindles, needlework and "counter" 
scissors, needles and firecrackers, razors and hair combs, mirrors and buttons and 
rosaries, ribbon, vermilion in packages, cigarette papers and mouth organs, coffee 
pots, 14 packages of face powder and 16 pounds of chocolate, four packages of 
saffron and 21 sacks of rice, 48 pounds of sugar, 5 pounds of copper sulphate, 
miscellaneous steel, iron and copper, candlesticks, 260 quarts of whiskey, olive 
oil, pots and pans, washbowls from Michoacan, 41 chairs and small stools, flour, 
corn, chile, carpets, knives (one to cut cheese with), and 53 cups and dishes from 
Puebla, Mexico. The total value of his inventory of goods was 2484 pesos, 1 real, 
and 5 granos. 

The type of dishes subsumed under the familiar term majolica have been 
considered by some to have been not only an expensive luxury but a symbol of 
upper-class status and ethnicity (in colonial San Agustine, Florida; see Deagan 


"Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts" 

1983). One of many items carried north over the Camino Real (and included in the 
inventory of mission supplies as early as 1631, as "one box of loza de Puebla"; 
Scholes 1930:101), majolica may have provided a sense of participation in and 
identification with Old World values and traditions. The value of those dishes in 
Delgado's inventory was only 1 1 pesos, 2 reales; the dishes were valued at 3 1/2 
reales each, and the cups at 2 reales each. Since most of the colonists' domestic 
pottery was purchased or traded from the Pueblo and Apache Indians, at least until 
late in the nineteenth century, majolica can be considered something of a luxury, 
particularly in view of the long-distance freight costs involved. Nevertheless, a 
recent analysis of values assigned to imported ceramics in eighteenth- and 
nineteenth-century New Mexico households (Snow 1987) indicates that majolica 
listed in 42 will and estate inventories was valued at an average of only 3 reales 
and 5 granos apiece. In contrast, loza de China, Chinese porcelain, was valued in 
the same wills and inventories at an average of 2 pesos, 1 real each. A similar study 
by Fournier (1989), based on the evaluations of majolica in wills and inventories 
in the Parral Archives, found that pieces ranged in cost from 1/8 of a real to 2 reales 
each; for Chinese porcelain, the cost ranged from 1/2 to 4 reales apiece. 

The average inventory cost of majolica from two Puebla factories in 1772 and 
1793 was less than 1 real (Snow 1987); a markup of approximately 14% above 
factory costs is apparent in New Mexico. For Chinese porcelain, the markup for 
profit and freight between Mexico City and Parral was obviously considerable, and 
from Parral (or Chihuahua) to Santa Fe it was more than double, as indicated in 
the valuations provided in Santa Fe and Parral inventories. Clearly, Chinese 
porcelain was a luxury in New Mexican households; its prestigious role is perhaps 
best illuminated by Alphonzo Rael de Aguila's last will and testament, made in 
Santa Fe in 1745, which itemized five china cups and four china chocolate mugs 


"purchased in Chihuahua for fiestas." 

With the opening of the Santa Fe Trail, a variety of imported English and other 
European as well as American-made ceramics (often listed as "flintwares" or loza 
de Pedernal, the familiar ironstone and its predecessors) became available to New 
Mexican households. In the same analysis of wills and inventories (Snow 1987) 
these ceramics were valued, on average, at 5 reales, 5 granos each, not much more 
expensive than Mexican majolica and still far less than Chinese porcelain. Boyd 
(1 974:31 5) provides an 1 835 manifest of goods brought into Santa Fe by Langham 
and Boggs and valued at the customshouse: among the items declared for taxation 
was a barrel containing 30 dozen dishes of white flintware, whose value is given 
at 36 pesos, or 1 peso, 2 reales the dozen, or 8 granos each. Increasingly cheaper 
as time passed, ironstones eventually replaced the more traditional majolica. 


David H. Snow 

The role of the local merchant and trader in colonial New Mexico, and their 
counterparts strategically located along the nearly 2000-mile Camino Real 
between Mexico City and Santa Fe, cannot be overemphasized. More important, 
the significance of that route, truly a lifeline for 250 years, cannot be appreciated 
simply in terms of the quantity and quality of goods and merchandise transported 
between the mining and ranching communities that gradually reached northward 
through time. The Camino Real provided the only means by which New Spain's 
non-Indian populations at the end of the trail in New Mexico maintained contact 
with the civilized world, its values, and its symbols. 

Figure 38. Wagons just arrived in Santa Fefrom Mexico, 1874, Sylvia Loomis Collection, 
New Mexico State Records Center and Archives, negative no. 21949. 


"Purchased in Chihuahua for Feasts" 


1. Bloom (1935:242-248) has translated a trade invoice, dated 1638, for goods 
shipped by Governor Luis de Rosas from Santa Fe to Parral. The goods itemized 
in this invoice are clearly products of New Mexico: 

Nineteen pieces of saydl containing 1 ,900 varas 

also: five bales of buffalo hides, painted (cueros de civola, pintados), 
containing 122 hides 

also: two bales containing 92 shammy skins (queros de gamuzas) 

also: 1 2 doublets (jubones), and jackets {queras) which go with the said 

also: another bale containing 100 shammies and 2 jackets 

also: two large boxes (cajones) of candles (betas) containing 900 

also: a bale containing 24 cushions (cojinillos), 12 doublets {soletos) 
and 6 shammies 

also: another bale containing 32 doublets {coletos) 

also: a box No. 1 , containing 12 hangings {reposteros) 

also: another No. 2, with 1 1 hangings 

also: another No. 3, with 13 hangings 

also: another No. 7, with 68 blankets (mantas) 

also: another No. 5, with 63 small blankets and 6 drapes (antepuestas) 

also: another No. 6, with 13 hangings 

also: another No. 7, with 68 blankets 

also: another No. 8, with 68 blankets 

also: another No. 9, with 33 drapes 

also: another No. 10, with 30 blankets 

also: another No. 1 1 , with 60 blankets 

also: another No. 12, with 60 blankets 

also: another No. 13, with 64 blankets 

also: another No. 14, with 1 1 hangings 

also: No. 1 5, with 7 drapes, 8 overskirts {faldellines), 1 9 large doublets 
and 2 small ones 
All of which the above said [Lopez] is taking to sell at retail and to account 
for with payment therefore at the prices at which he may sell them for 
which, dead or living, he makes the present [invoice] and obligates 
himself in due form with his person and effects. 

2. State Archives of New Mexico (SANM) 1, No. 13, Roll 8, frames 007-1 17. 


David H. Snow 

3. 1 copied these names from WPA translations of the cited document, and I have 
not yet checked the original Spanish text to clear up the last names of several of 
these merchants. Santiago de Laguers [?] may be a misreading of Seberino 
Legarreta, resident of Parral in the eighteenth century (Fournier 1989:5); Diego 
Belasco, listed in the Parral Archives as "nacido en Santa Fe, Nuevo Mexico, vecino 
(de Parral] , comerciante," was apparently the son of old Diego de Velasco, the "lame 
carpenter" in charge of the reconstruction of San Miguel Chapel in 1710 (Chavez 
1954:309-310). Diego II was married in Santa Fe in 1746, his widow having died 
in 1 751 ; given the date of Miguel Archebeque's death (September 1 727), however, 
it is more likely that the Diego Belasco referred to was, in fact, the "Master 
Carpenter," native of Guadiana in Durango and still living in Santa Cruz de la Canada 
in 1746. 

4. Will, Salvador Montoya, SANM 1, No. 512, Roll 3, frames 733-741. 

5. SANM I, No. 793, Roll 9, frames 007-058; 1771 . 

6. SANM I, No. 339, Roll 2, frames 803-809. The Don Pedro Almayua in this passage 
is no doubt the same as one of Miguel Archiveque's creditors in Parral, given in 
WPA translation as "Pedro de Almuino [?]; the name does not appear in Fournier's 
(1989) list of Parral merchants and citizens, but that list represents only a sample 
enumerated for her study. In his will Gavaldon declared that a piece of land should 
be purchased from Francisca de Salazar in Santa Fe "to be used as a road to connect 
with the camino real" — a frequently used term denoting any public street or road 
in Santa Fe throughout the colonial and early territorial periods. 

7. SANM I, No. 792, Roll 4, frames 1246-1267. 

8. The peso represented 8 reales or 96 granos; thus, there were 12 granos to the 
real (cf. Barnes et al. 1981:67). 

9. SANM 1, No. 765, Roll 4, frames 1045-1051. 

Suggested Reading 

Drumm, Stella M., ed. 

1 926 Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 
1846-1847. Yale University Press, New Haven. 

Moorhead, Max L, ed. 

1954 Commerce of the Prairies, byjosah Gregg. University of Oklahoma Press, 


14. Daughters of the 
Camino Real 

Mary Jean Cook 

Upon his second expedition to New Mexico, Don Juan de Onate 
decreed in 1602 that honorary titles were to be given to the sons of 
the colonizers. They were to be known as hidalgos (hijos de algo). What 
then of the hijas, the daughters of the colonizers? They were destined 
to carry the honor only vicariously, through their male offspring. But 
history tells us that these daughters of the colonizers also lived, fought, 
and died in the New World, not to mention gave birth. In truth, were 
it not for the women who also traveled the Camino Real beside the 
men in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, there would have been 
no consummate hidalgos. 

Few historical documents record the many women who came up 
the Royal Road from central Mexico during its several centuries of 
existence. Seldom do we learn more about women other than their 
names, their relationship to the men of the caravans, and the names 
of their children or servants. In only one notable exception, that of 
nineteenth-century Dona Gertrudis Barcelo, can the feminine thread of 
history be unraveled to its finality. Nevertheless, it may be said that 
the early women who crossed the Camino Real into the New World 
helped to shape the course of history with intelligence, pluck, and 
amazing style. 

In 1 600 Captain Antonio Conde de Herrera, traveling with his wife, 
children, and brothers- and sisters-in-law, listed his wife's extensive 
wardrobe for the distant journey. Dona Francisca Galindo brought 
clothing and household effects befitting her social status at San 
Gabriel, the site where Juan de Onate's colonizers settled in 1598 at 
the convergence of the Chama River and the Rio Grande in northern 
New Mexico. For the arduous journey northward, Captain Conde 


Mary Jean Cook 

Figure 39. Spanish pioneer woman, c. 1650, drawn by Jose Cisneros 
(from Riders across the Century, Texas Western Press, UTEP). 


Daughters of the Camino Real 

packed his family's belongings in two carretas (carts), "one very large," accompanied 
by the twenty-two draft oxen required to pull the load. 

Archaeological artifacts found at the San Gabriel site on the Rio Grande near 
San Juan and at the Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe — jewelry, buttons, and 
pieces of early sixteenth-century heirloom Chinese porcelain — confirm that 
women adorned themselves and their adobe homes with unexpected elegance. 
In addition to artifacts, a lengthy inventory in the will of Juana Lujan in 1762 
records the size and international scope of an early New Mexico woman's estate 
(Ahlborn 1990). Some of Juana Lujan's possessions were brought across the 
Camino Real, imported from the French provinces of Bretana, Cambrai, and Ruan 
(Rouen), and from China, by way of Mexican ports. 

In 1600 the commander-in-chief of the Onate expedition of reenforcements, 
Captain Bernabe de las Casas, ordered an appearance of all women about to depart 
from Santa Barbara, Chihuahua. The muster roll enumerated Spanish and Indian, 
married or single, and free or slave, including mulattas (called mulattos). Indian 
women, some bringing children, originated from Pachuca, Tecama, Puebla de los 
Angeles, Peaca, Toluca, and Tepeaca in Mexico. Not only the marital status of these 
Indian women was determined, but also whether they were currently living in 
mortal sin. A priest was assigned to take care of such matters. 

Of particular interest among the Indian women was the mulatta named Isabel 
de Olvera, who described herself as a free woman, single, and a native of Pachuca. 
Earlier in 1600 she had appeared in Queretaro before his majesty's alcalde 
(magistrate) Don Pedro Lorenzo de Castilla. Isabel's strong declaration reveals a 
woman of intellect, determination, and individualism. In apparent recognition of 
the validity of her complaint, the alcalde mayor (chief magistrate) signed the formal 
document, ordering that the original, not the copy, be returned to the courageous 
woman. Isabel de Olvera recorded possibly the earliest statement about sexual 
and racial harassment by a woman in the New World: 

as I am going on the expedition to New Mexico and have reason to fear 
that I may be annoyed by some individuals, since I am a mulatto, and as 
it is proper to protect my rights in such an eventuality by an affidavit 
showing that I am a free woman, unmarried, the legitimate daughter of 
Hernando, a negro, and an Indian named Madalena, 1 therefore request 
your grace to accept this affidavit, which shows that I am free and not 
bound by marriage or slavery. 1 request that a properly certified and 
signed copy be given to me in order to protect my rights, and that it carry 
full legal authority. I demand justice. Isabel. 


Mary Jean Cook 

Isabel's life in the ensuing years is unknown. Two men named Olvera appear 
in seventeenth-century documents of New Mexico. Juan de Olivera (Olvera), a 
resident of Santa Fe, upon orders of Governor Eulate (1618-1625) was allegedly 
hanged for his overly zealous church work during the Mexican Inquisition. In 1 642, 
a Francisco de Olivera, born in 1604 and thirty-six years of age, was living in Santa 
Fe. After the murder of Governor Luis de Rosas, which was instigated as a result 
of a controversy between the friars and the civil authorities, Francisco was sent to 
Nueva Vizcaya. The murderer, Nicolas Ortiz, had been apprehended by the 
governor at Parral, and Francisco's mission was to return the murderer to Santa 
Fe(SchoIes 1936-1937 [reprint 1937:158]). Juan and Francisco may have been the 
natural (born out of wedlock) children of Isabel de Olvera. 

The name of Diego de Olvera, who gives Madrid, Spain, as his birthplace, also 
appears in 1696. Diego records an accounting of the rentals of land owned by Don 
Diego de Vargas. His relationship to Isabel de Olvera, if any, remains unknown. 

Relentless hours of dusty travel on the Camino Real were lightened with the 
feminine touch by such entertainment as music and singing, dancing, card-playing, 
love-making, as well as the laughter and pranks of children on the expeditions. 
Most certainly, disease and death occurred, as well as births and marriages, even 
marital discord. Social amenities and comforts, such as tablecloths and napkins at 
mealtime, sheets and pillowcases for beds, mattresses and tents, were not 
dispensed with, as can be seen from the inventory of articles carried by the 

The Spanish custom of formal meals during travel along the trail may be found 
in the journal of U. S. Army Second Lt. Philip St. George Cooke. One such dinner 
was served on the Santa Fe Trail in 1829 by Colonel Jose Antonio Vizcarra, gefe 
militdr (military governor) in Santa Fe. The colonel commanded Mexican dragoons 
riding escort for protection of a wagon train leaving New Mexico with fleeing 
Spaniards bound for Missouri in the wake of the Mexican Revolution. Fried ham, 
"various kinds of cakes, and delightful chocolate; and . . . several kinds of Mexican 
wines" were served on a low table set with silver in a large oval tent (Young 
1952:148). This elaborate occasion occurred on the windswept prairie of Kansas 
near Chouteau's Island, in today's Kearny County. 

Following the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Spanish and Indian families were again 
recruited from Zacatecas in 1694-1695 for resettlement in Santa Fe. This 
expedition was led byjuan Paez Hurtado, captain ofthe presidio of El Paso del Rio 
Grande del Norte, site of today's Cuidad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Bonuses of 
320 pesos (a peso was the approximate equivalent of a dollar) for a family of four 


Daughters of the Camino Real 

or more, plus living expenses of 1 1/2 reales (a Spanish silver coin the equivalent of 
twelve and a half cents), were paid during the time the expedition was being 
organized. Money was an attractive incentive, especially for widows with children. 
Of the forty-six different families mustered, ten were widows with children ranging 
in age from one to twenty-five (Strout 1978:264-269). Prospects for not only a 
new life, but also a new husband, awaited the more adventuresome women in New 

Seventeen-year-old Francisca Gigosa (de Guijosa, Aguijosa, Equijosa) was 
among the returning colonists with Gen. don Diego de Vargas in 1693. She 
accompanied her stonemason husband, Antonio Moya of Mexico City. By 1713, 
following Moya's death, Francisca's entreprenurial acumen was made apparent by 
her sizable real estate transactions. She petitioned for and received from Gov. Juan 
Ignacio Flores Mogollon a land grant in the Taos Valley, where she pastured her 
sheep and goats. 

Another early New Mexican woman fully capable of managing her own estate 
while also managing a family of seven children was Antonia Moraga. She had been 
in the retreat to El Paso following the Pueblo Revolt of 1 680, returning to Chimayo 

Figure 40. Women in Mexico, detail in untitled work by Carl Nebel. 


Mary Jean Cook 

in 1695 to the hacienda de Moraga. Antonia's property included the area of Santa 
Fe's cienega (wetland), with a torreon (tower), which she eventually conveyed to 
Governor Flores Mogollon as part of the municipal commons. 

Josefa Bustamante, wife of Nicolas Ortiz III, proved less talented in business 
affairs than Francisca and Antonia. Her husband's death in 1769 made her one of 
the wealthiest women in New Mexico. Within twenty years she had squandered 
her real estate and her business in Chihuahua by poor judgment. In her final days 
Josefa was reduced to living on the pension income of a presidial captain's widow. 
Josefa Bustamante is best remembered for the reestablishment of the 
Confraternity of Nuestra Senora del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary) and Santa 
Fe's annual fiesta in honor of the statue of "La Conquistadora" (known today as 
Our Lady of Peace). 

Spanish soldiers found their women equally capable of valor in battle in the 
New World, according to seventeenth-century New Mexico historian Gaspar Perez 
de Villagra. He tells us about Dona Eufemia, wife of Royal Ensign Diego de Sosa 
Penalosa. Villagra admiringly describes her as "a lady of distinguished beauty and 
singular courage and wisdom." Dona Eufemia had in the "land of the unconquered 
Araucanians, of southern South America, put an entire garrison to shame by her 
example." Just what that example was, Villagra fails to record. 

In Villagra's words, Dona Eufemia castigates thieving and rebellious soldiers 
in New Mexico with this address worthy of a commanding officer: 

Tell me, 0, noble soldiers, where is that courage which you so professed 
when you enlisted in this noble cause? Why gave you then to understand 
that nothing could resist the might of your arms if now you turn your 
back and ignobly desert? What explanation have you for such conduct if 
you hold yourself men? 

For shame! Such are not the actions of Spaniards. Even though everything 
else might be lost, there is yet land on the banks of some mighty river 
where we may raise a mighty city and thus immortalize our names. To 
such a place we can go, and it were better that we halted right here and 
rested than to retrace our steps and leave upon ourselves and our 
posterity a stigma which can never be erased (Espinosa 1933:91). 

Fearing an Indian reprisal in 1599, two Spanish captains found Dona Eufemia 
had already gathered all the colonist women together, a total of twenty-two, on 
the rooftops at San Juan to fight beside their husbands. In canto form, Villagra 


Daughters of the Camino Real 

writes that "Don Juan was highly pleased at this display of valor coming from 
feminine breasts." The women were ordered to defend the housetops, patrolling 
"with proud and martial step." It should not be forgotten that Indian wives fought 
valiantly against the conquering Spaniards and beside their warrior husbands as 

Although specific names of Camino Real women who fought in early battles 
go unheralded, other than "wife of ensign . . .," one name continues to mark the 
map of New Mexico today. The memory of Dona Ana Robledo, wife of Onate's loyal 
lieutenant, Juan Guerra, has endured since 1682 as the name of a Camino Real 
settlement north of Las Cruces (Pearce 1965). The legendary Dona Ana was a 
woman of charity and good deeds. 

For two centuries, soldiers, priests, colonists, and their supplies crossed the 
Camino Real. Then in the 1820s when the Santa Fe Trail linked with the route into 
central Mexico, merchants and their heavily laden wagons dominated the highway. 
These men were an ethnic mix of traders from Mexico, Germany, France, Canada, 
and the United States. Often gone for a year or more, merchants occasionally 
traveled with their wives and families. 

The eighteen-year-old bride of Chihuahua trader Samuel Magoffin, Susan 
Shelby Magoffin, kept a rare journal of her observations and adventures in 

Figure 4 1 . Family in front of log cabin, courtesy of National Archives, 
negative 111-SC-89608. 


Mary Jean Cook 

1846-1847. After crossing the Santa Fe Trail from Independence, Missouri, to 
Bent's Fort in Colorado, she suffered a miscarriage only a day after her nineteenth 
birthday. She contrasts her miscarriage with a healthy birth by an Indian woman 
who was in the fort at the same time. Thirty minutes following childbirth, the 
Indian woman walked to the Arkansas River to bathe herself and her baby. Susan 
calls the practice a "heathenish custom." 

Amid the confusion of U. S. Army dragoons marching south on the Camino 
Real to fight the Mexican War, and the possibility of Indian attacks on the Jornada 
del Muerto (Journey of the Dead Man), the MagofTins reached El Paso del Norte 
and Monterrey. Susan describes the aftermath of a fierce battle between the 
Mexican and U. S. troops. Abandoning difficult and hazardous inland travel, she 
returned to the United States by boat, never again crossing either the Santa Fe 
Trail or the Chihuahua Trail. 

Migrating families from the Mexican frontier traveled northward into New 
Mexico. Around 1816, the Catalan Barcelos had settled in the village of Valencia 
south of Albuquerque, coming up the Camino Real from the Bavispe River valley 
of northeast Sonora. Incessant Apache Indian raids surely influenced their flight 
from the area. 

Later to become wealthy and politically influential in Santa Fe during the 
1830s and 1840s, gambler Dona Gertrudis Barcelo, known as "La Tules," traveled 
the Chihuahua Trail portion of the Camino Real, and possibly as far south as San 
Juan de Los Lagos, to gamble at Mexican fairs. She returned to New Mexico with 
silver and gold for her monte (card) games. Hard specie was difficult to obtain in 
what for centuries had always been a bartering society. 

In late 1846 with the arrival of the Americans, the dashing Colonel David 
Dawson Mitchell of the U. S. Army escorted Dona Tules to a Santa Fe baile (ball). 
Adding a new dimension to the word, she had bartered with Mitchell and agreed 
to give him a loan of $1000 in return. According to local rumor, he needed the 
money to clothe and feed his one hundred volunteers as they set out down the 
Camino Real to fight the Mexican War. 

Besides being an expert monte player, Tules was a spirited and brilliant 
woman gifted in the art of feminine persuasion of both Mexican and American 
high-ranking officers. Dona Gertrudis Barcelo emerges as one of the most 
extraordinary women to have lived during the nineteenth century in New Mexico. 


Daughters of the Camino Real 

Other members of Tules's family traveled the Camino Real in the 1800s. An 
adopted daughter, Maria del Refugio, married a native of Chihuahua in Santa Fe, 
Santiago Flores, who traded in Mexico and the United States as well. Flores was 
fluent in both Spanish and English, as were virtually all merchants. Church records 
show that Refugio gave birth to children in Santa Fe and to at least one child in 
Chihuahua, indicating that she traveled the Chihuahua Trail with her trader 

Figure 42. Taos Pueblo Woman, courtesy West- 
ern History Department, Denver Public Library. 

Figure 43. Taz-ayz-Slath, wife ofGeronimo 
and child, courtesy Western History 
Department, Denver Public Library. 


Mary Jean Cook 

Through continued research on women of the Camino Real, it is certain that 
more outstanding lives will be brought into focus. We will learn that there were 
other Isabels, Dona Eufemias, and Gertrudis Barcelos who may have missed the 
pages of present-day history, but who no less nobly led the way for future 
daughters of New Mexico. 


1 . Palace of the Governors Collections, Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe; Maxwell 
Museum, Albuquerque, NM, artifacts on loan to the Museum of New Mexico. 

2. Archives of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Santa Fe Marriages, Roll 31, fr. 844 
and Santa Fe Baptisms, Roll 17, frs. 188, 287, 577. Church of Latter Day Saints, 
International Genealogical Index for the Parish of El Sagrario, Chihuahua, 
Chihuahua, Mexico (Salt Lake City). 

Suggested Reading 

Chavez, Fray Angelico 

1975 Origins of New Mexico Families (reprint). William Gannon, Santa Fe. 

Drumm, Stella M., ed. 

1 926 Down the Santa Fe Trail and into Mexico: The Diary of Susan Shelby Magoffin, 
1846-1847. Yale University Press, New Haven. 

Jenkins, Myra Ellen 

1983 Some Eighteenth-Century New Mexico Women of Property. In Hispanic 
Arts and Ethnohistory, edited by Marta Weigle. Ancient City Press, Santa Fe. 


15. A Brief Survey of Music 
on the Camino Real 

Shawn Dougherty 

Music at the Source of the Camino Real: Mexico City in the 
Sixteenth Century 

The first group of missionaries sent to New Spain by Charles V to 
begin the task of converting the Indian population consisted of three 
Flemish Franciscans. One of them, a relative of Charles who would be 
known in the New World as Pedro de Gante, was a skilled musician. 
Fray Pedro established the first school for Indian pupils, and the "three 
r's" at Pedro's school were reading, writing, and music. 

Music education was of great importance to the friars, both in the 
city of Mexico and in what would become New Mexico, since the 
Indians expressed a genuine interest in it, and it was therefore a great 
tool for the friars in their efforts to convert the Indians to Christianity. 
Juan de Zumarraga, the first bishop of Mexico, wrote in a letter to 
Charles V: "Experience has taught us how greatly edified the Indians 
are by sacred music; indeed the fathers who hear their confessions tell 
us that more than by preaching the Indians are converted by the music." 

Numerous comments can be found in the writings of Pedro de 
Gante and other chroniclers of the time, such as Fray Toribio de 
Motolonfa and Fray Juan de Torquemada, which document the 
lightninglike spread of Spanish music throughout the Valley of Mexico 
and beyond. Robert Stevenson provides a liberal sample of quotes in 
his books dealing with Mexican music (1952). We read of the aged 
friar whose task it was to train the first Indian choirboys. Motolonfa 
relates that the friar knew nothing of the Aztec language, only Castilian, 
and goes on to say "He talked with the boys as correctly and sensibly 
as if he were talking with Spaniards. Those of us who heard him were 
beside ourselves with laughter as we watched the boys standing 


Shawn Dougherty 

open-mouthed to see what he meant. It was marvelous that, although at first they 
did not understand a thing, and the old man had no interpreter, in a short time 
they understood him and learned to sing, so that now there are many of them so 
skilful that they direct choirs." 

Pedro de Gante's trip from Ghent to Seville before departing for the New 
World was taken in the company of Charles V, who always traveled with his musical 
chapel, one of the best choirs in Europe. So Pedro knows what a remarkable thing 
he is saying when he writes to Charles in 1 532, only nine years after Pedro's arrival, 
and says: "I can tell Your Majesty without exaggeration that there are already 
Indians here who are capable of preaching, teaching and writing. And with the 
utmost sincerity I can affirm that there are now trained singers among them who 
if they were to sing in Your Majesty's Chapel would at this very moment that 
perhaps you would have to see them actually singing in order to believe it 

Motolonfa gives a report on the advanced state of musical affairs in Tlaxcala, 
Mexico, in 1539, a mere eighteen years after the conquest. After boasting of not 
one, but two choirs of twenty Tlaxcaltecas, each of whom can sing the Divine 
Office, he goes on to describe a play with music on the subject of Adam and Eve. 
As the choir members singing the parts of Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, 
accompanied by six angels, "they went out singing a polyphonic setting of the 
psalm 'Circumdederunt me.' This was so well performed that no one who saw it 

could keep from weeping bitterly Consoling the disconsolate pair, angels went 

off singing in parts a villancico in the Tlaxcalan language." 

It is important to understand the types of music that constituted the mainstays 
of sacred music in the sixteenth century, which would have been performed in 
missions, churches, and cathedrals. The music of the Catholic church for centuries 
before and after this time rested on a firm foundation of plainsong, or "Gregorian" 
chant. This music is used not only during the Mass but also during the Divine Office, 
a series of short services to be performed at set times during the day — Matins at 
midnight and Vespers before sundown, for example. Plainsong settings of various 
texts are used, including that of the Mass, the Psalms, responsories, and antiphons, 
such as the favorite Marian antiphon of the Spaniards, "Salve Regina." 

Choral music is generally preferred for high Mass, any festive occasion, and 
whenever it can be afforded. Whether in the sixteenth century or the twentieth, 
it is expensive compared with some other options, often requiring funds for scores 
and salaries. The missionaries did try to train and employ professional Indian 


Music on the Camino Real 

Figure 44. Organ. 

Shawn Dougherty 

The missionaries' musical efforts were so successful in just a few decades that 
the overabundance of musicians by 1556 caused Philip II to write in a cedula to 
the Royal Audiencia, "and because the number of musicians and singers is reported 
to be increasing constantly in both large and small towns . . . and because very 
many of those reared simply to sing and play on instruments soon become lazy 
scoundrels whose morals are reported to be extremely bad, we require a reduction 
in the number of Indians who shall be permitted to occupy themselves as 

We learn fromjuan de Torquemada's Monarquia Indiana that by 1 61 5 abundant 
musicians were found not only in the capital, but in the provinces as well: 
"Nowadays every town of one hundred population or more contains singers who 
have learned how to sing the Offices, the Mass, Vespers and are proficient in 
polyphonic music; competent instrumentalists are also found everywhere. The 
small towns all have their supply of instruments, and even the smallest hamlets, 
no matter how insignificant, have three or four Indians at least who sing every day 
in church. Especially this is true in the provinces of Michoacan and Jalisco." 

In general, manufacturing was not encouraged in the Spanish colonies; 
however, instrument manufacturing flourished. Torquemada wrote: "One thing 
can be asserted without fear of contradiction: in all Christendom there is nowhere 
a greater abundance of flutes, sackbuts, trumpets and drums than here in New 
Spain." (Incidentally, stringed instruments can join the horse, the potato, and 
chocolate on the list of items that were not common to both hemispheres before 
the Spanish conquest. None of the indigenous peoples in North or South America 
had developed stringed instruments; they were introduced to the Americas by the 

The flourishing of European music in central Mexico on such an active level 
in such a short time was aided by a few circumstances. First, a highly developed 
civilization was already in place, with a large population inhabiting one of the great 
cities of the world. Second, the Aztecs already had their own corps of highly trained 
temple musicians and dancers. The professional musician was already a part of 
their society. Third, the rituals of the Aztec religion were complex and of such a 
nature that the intricacies of music and liturgy in services, such as those of the 
Divine Office, were neither incomprehensible nor even unusual. 

Missionary Music in Northern New Mexico 

Although much less well documented, the musical efforts of missionaries at 
the other end of the Camino Real in northern New Mexico were also based on the 


Music on the Camino Real 

conviction that music was an important aid to religious conversion. Perhaps the 
first music teacher to work within the present borders of the United States was 
the Franciscan Cristobal de Quinones. This friar was probably a member of Juan 
de Onate's colony, and before his death in 1609 he was said to have learned the 
language of the Queres Indians, erected the church and monastery at San Felipe, 
installed an organ in the chapel there, and taught many of the natives so 
successfully that they were skilled singers of the church services. (Such is the 
information from Agustin de Vetancurt's Menologio Franciscano of 1698. It is the 
belief of one scholar that Vetancurt confused Quinones with Fray Cristobal de 
Quiros. The question is not important for the purpose of this paper, which is to 
relate that the chroniclers of New Mexico of the 1 600s took the same pride in the 
achievements of mission musicians as that expressed by their counterparts farther 

The most important chronicler of musical activity in early seventeenth century 
New Mexico is Father Alonso de Benavides. Several passages in his Memorial of 
1630 (Ayer 1916) and Revised Memorial of 1 634 (Hodge, Hammond, and Rey 1945) 
mention music, choirs, and instruments, at least in passing. For example, while 
speaking of Taos Pueblo he remarks, "Most outstanding in this Pueblo is the 
marvelous choir of wonderful boy musicians, whose voices the friar chose from 
among more than a thousand who attended the schools of Christian teaching." 

In a petition to Philip IV Benavides reports, "The native lords and chieftains 
resent very much that they are compelled to pay tribute. Likewise all the Indians 
who are choir singers and assistants in the churches are free only from personal 
service, but not from tribute, because of their regular attendance in church and in 
the schools." Thus Benavides documents the existence of professional, or at least 
semiprofessional, choral singers. 

Two passages from the Memorial help to indicate the level of sophistication 
that music in New Mexico may have reached. The first has been mistranslated in 
most editions of the Memorial, owing to confusion regarding the Spanish term 
canto de organo. It has normally been translated along the lines of: "For it is a thing 
for which praise the Lord to see in so little time so many chapels with organ chant." 
"Organ chant" has no meaning; as musicologist Lincoln Spiess (1964) was the first 
to point out, the correct translation of the entire passage would read, "likewise 
the friars teach the boys to read and write, and to sing, which is something for 
which the Lord is to be praised, to see in such a short time so many choirs with 
polyphonic music." The situation of having "so many choirs with polyphonic music" 
on the frontier after only thirty years of settlement would indicate a very admirable 


Shawn Dougherty 

The second passage of significance concerns a Navajo captain, who returned 
to the church the day after having made peace with Benavides, just before 
Benavides was going to say Mass. The Navajo wanted to stay for Mass, but he was 
told he could not until he had been baptized. As a show of good will, however, 
Benavides writes, "I ordered the singers to sing the Salve [Regina], de canto de organo 
(in polyphony) with all solemnity, and with trumpets and shawms [early oboes]." 

The tantalizing question here is, whose "Salve Regina" was it? Who composed 
the music? The period with which we are dealing is the Golden Age of Spanish 
polyphony, the age of the great Spanish composers Cristobal de Morales, Francisco 
Guerrero, and Tomas Luis de Victoria. The works of these men are well represented 
in the colonial music archives of Mexico City, Puebla, Guatemala City, and other 
Latin American cities. Did copies of these works make their way up the Camino 
Real to Santa Fe? 

New Spain boasted a fine group of composers who filled the maestro de capilla 
or "music director" positions in the cathedrals and convents of Mexico City and 
Puebla. The works of composers Hernando Franco and Antonio Rodriguez de Mata 
of the Mexico City Cathedral, and Gaspar Fernandes and Juan Gutierrez de Padilla 
of Puebla Cathedral, survive in part. Might it have been their compositions that 
were copied to be taken up the Camino Real to the distant northern settlements? 

These questions remain unanswerable because of the absence of early musical 
manuscripts or prints in New Mexican archives. The early archives did not survive 
the Pueblo Revolt, and therefore one can only speculate whether the early mission 
music was provided by the composers mentioned above, or whether it was locally 
composed by friars with musical training. This was the case in the California 
missions a century and a half later. Spiess ponders an ambiguous notation in a 
Benavides supply list: "40 pesos for five antiphonary books 'compuesto por' Fray 
Jeronimo Ciruelo of the order of St. Francis, in one volume." Spiess declares, 
"Whether Father Ciruelo was the actual composer, or simply the scribe, must 
remain for the moment an unanswered problem. 'Compuesto' could mean either." 

The Villancico and Other Song Forms 

Of course, not every note of music in New Spain was sung to a Latin text. One 
of the best-represented and most delightful genres in colonial archives is the 
Spanish villancico. The villancico takes its name from the word villanus or villano, 
that is, "ruffian." Inherent in its name then is the idea that the villancico is a song 
for the lower classes. By extension, since the religious villancico is usually a 


Music on the Camino Real 

Christmas piece, it is a song bound up with the idea that Christ brought his 
message to the lowly of the earth, even the humble shepherds. 

The ancestry of the villancico can be traced back to the medieval troubadour 
songs of France, and to similar songs of other nations. The Cancionero de Palacio is 
an important Spanish collection of villancicos and other part-songs from the age 
of Ferdinand and Isabel. The composer best represented in the Cancionero isjuan 
del Encina (1468-1529). Encina was a poet as well as a musician, as were the old 
troubadours. He also wrote a series of pastoral plays that are generally considered 
to be a major starting point for Spanish drama. His part-songs in the Cancionero 
include love songs, laments, bawdy songs, and devotional songs, as well as 

These few facts about Encina and the Cancionero indicate some important 
aspects of the villancico in Latin America. Encina was a poet, and the villancico is, 
partially, a poetic genre. In Latin America, the villancico as a poetic genre is 
considered to be the "property" of New Spain's brightest literary light, Sor Juana 
Ines de la Cruz. Sor Juana usually gathered her villancicos into "suites" of eight or 
nine villancicos each, in a manner reminiscent of the sonnet sequence. The 
villancico suites were usually broken up into groups, with three villancicos being 
sung at the first nocturne of Matins and two or three being sung at the second 
and third nocturne of Matins. 

Although villancico music was not printed in New Spain in the colonial period, 
villancico poetry was printed frequently. The poetry was so very popular that 
villancico poetry often found its way into print at times when paper shortages 
prevented the printing of government documents. 

Juan del Encina was also an author of pastoral plays; the villancico is 
sometimes folk music, as in the play "Los Pastores." The folk music of "Los Pastores" 
is generally simpler than the composed villancicos of the cathedral choirmasters 
of New Spain, but the Cancionero de Palacio itself contains simple chordal music, 
alongside more intricate contrapuntal songs. The villancico is a flexible 
composition musically and poetically. It is comfortable "dressed up" with Sor 
Juana's sophisticated and erudite puns and with the music of Spain's and New 
Spain's best polyphonists. It is also at home in the casual garb of genuine orally 
transmitted folk poetry and tunes. 

Some of Encina's songs in the Cancionero de Palacio are bawdy to the point 
of obscenity. The villancico, though normally thought of as church music, was often 
not considered to be sufficiently pious and was actually banned by royal decree in 


Shawn Dougherty 

1765, prohibited from use in churches in Spanish dominions. The villancico never 
lost its association with the peasantry and peasant verse and dance forms. In its 
profane form as a relative of the Spanish romance, it occasionally took a satirical, 
biting, or anticlerical turn. 

Never really suppressed , its popularity is suggested by an inventory of musical 
works possessed by the cathedral of a city on the Camino Real — that of Durango, 
Mexico. A published catalog of the cathedral's seventeenth- and 
eighteenth-century musical holdings lists 492 musical compositions, including 42 
settings of the Mass, 57 overtures, and fully 159 villancicos (Atunez 1970). The 
contemporary editor of the catalog asks, "For what reason should our colonial 
musicians have preferred such a compositional genre? Probably it was owing to 
the simplicity of the music and to the texts of the poetry." By the early nineteenth 
century, however, the villancico as musica culta, or classical music, had gone the 
way of all Mexican art music of that period. That is to say it succumbed completely 
to the stylistic invasion of Italian opera, the musical form that dominated classical 
music in Mexico for most of the nineteenth century. It is the villancico as folk music 
that continued unabated as a potent musical form. 

As one moves northward from Durango, up the Camino Real into Texas and 
New Mexico, one faces the same problem with the colonial villancico as one does 
with Latin church music: lack of surviving music, or in the case of northern Mexican 
cities, lack of published information about the music that did survive. In those 
same regions, however, around the time of the decline of the villancico as musica 
culta, a new song form became very important, a song form that may be related 
to the villancico: the corrido or narrative ballad. It is related as a literary genre to 
the romance and the jdcara, a narrative dealing with a singular or notable event. 
This form stretches back into the colonial era and is one that Sor Juana employed. 
When the "notable event" is the birth of Christ, or a miracle performed by a saint, 
then the jacara becomes a type of villancico. 

The corrido, according to one scholar, "has inherited from the jacara an 
exaggerated emphasis on manhood." The Christmas jacara "A la xdcara, xacahlla," 
set to music as a choral villancico byjuan Gutierrez de Padilla in Puebla, bears this 
out in the sense that the narrator of the piece is a valiant fellow prone to use such 
exclamations as "vaya!" or "afuera!" He boasts that if the newborn king will listen 
to his song, it will be like no other song about this most prodigious child. 

The noted musicologist Robert M. Stevenson (1974) states, "The only 
pronounced difference between a seventeenth century jacara honoring [St. Peter] 
Nolasco and a twentieth century corrido mentioning Zapata is that one is a ballad 


Music on the Camino Real 




Melodia Nacional 





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Figure45. Sheet music. 


Shawn Dougherty 

concerning the exploits of a religious figure, and the other is a ballad concerning 
the exploits of a political figure." Sor Juana herselfwrites in one of her jacaras: "un 
corrido es lo mismo que unajdcara" [A corrido is the same thing as a jacara]; however, 
this line was written two hundred years before the type of song we now know as 
a corrido made its appearance. 

The corrido is a song form known throughout modern Mexico and Latin 
America as well. It is often associated with the Mexican Revolution of this century, 
but earlier it was associated with part of the territory crossed by the Camino Real: 
specifically, its early associations are with the border conflicts of the nineteenth 
century. One scholar even proposes that the corrido "may actually be a creation 
of the Mexican community in the U.S. This form later diffuses southward as the 
stimulating events of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 provide new narrative 

On the other hand, Vincente T. Mendoza, the great Hispanic song collector 
and scholar, is quoted as stating that the first real corridos date from the 1820s, 
and reference is made to corridos dealing with the Juarez reform period 
(1855-1863), Maxamillian's ascension to the throne in 1864, and other 
nineteenth-century events in central Mexico. 

The corrido is a strophic song — that is, a song made up of verses or coplas. 
The verses consist of four lines each, and each line contains eight syllables. The 
corrido is most often in 6/8 or 2/4 time, and songs of this form often assume the 
rhythms of a waltz or polka. The text of the corrido often mentions at the outset 
the date and place of the events to be described. The final verse may be a despedida 
(farewell) beginning with the words Vuela, vuela palomita (fly, fly little dove) or 
giving the name of the singer. 

The twentieth-century composer Carlos Chavez said disparagingly of the 
corrido, "The many four-line verses are all sung with the same monotonous 
melody, accompanied by tonic-dominant chords on the guitar." The thrust of the 
corrido, however, is obviously not as a vehicle for displaying clever musical 
invention or melodic improvisatory facility; rather it is a vehicle for musical 
narrative, social commentary, and verbal improvisatory skills. After the Tlateloco 
massacres of 1968 in Mexico City, during which many students were killed by the 
military, students used the corrido as a protest form and wrote new texts to 
traditional corrido melodies. Because it is a type of verse often associated with 
death or conflict, there is no shortage of material to inspire new texts, and corrido 
composition continues to the present day. 


Music on the Camino Real 

An often happier type of improvised strophic song is definitely a New Mexico 
invention: the enthega de novios (delivery of the newlyweds), a folk wedding 
ceremony. It is described by Lamadrid (1990) as being the product of a "regional 
folk Catholicism" that developed in the nineteenth century, a time when the 
northern frontier suffered a chronic shortage of priests. During this period the 
ceremony might be used to give community sanction to a new couple. Later, when 
a priest arrived in the village, the couple would then receive the sanction of the 

Presently the entriega de novios is almost always performed at wedding 
receptions. Earlier in the century it was frequently performed late at night after 
the wedding dance at the house of the bride's parents. The sections of the 
ceremony include an invocation; commentary on verses from the Holy Scripture, 
often stressing the importance of Mary and Joseph as role models; verses 
recapitulating the wedding; advice from the singer; and "verses for the people." 
This last section is usually improvised, humorous at times, directed to relatives 
and friends of the couple in attendance, and can last from a few minutes to a half 
an hour. 

The entriega de novios is described as representing the phenomenon of 
"cultural resistance." That is, it demonstrates adherence to traditional Hispanic 
customs, even though the area in which these customs prevail was formerly a 
physically remote part of the larger Hispanic society, and even though the area is 
currently subject to strong social and linguistic pressures from outside the 
Hispanic community. It is interesting to note that New Mexico is also cited as an 
area in which Spanish romances whose texts date back many centuries are better 
preserved than in Spain herself. 

This article has only attempted to touch very briefly on selected aspects of a 
very rich musical tradition. It is hoped that it might serve as a useful jumping-off 
point for those interested in further study. 


Shawn Dougherty 

Suggested Reading 

Lamadrid, Enrique R. 

1990 Las Entriegas: Ceremonial Music and Cultural Resistance on the Upper 
Rio Grande. New Mexico Historical Review 65(1): 1-1 9. 

Robbjohn Donald 

1980 Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest: A Self-Portrait of a 
People. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman. 

Stevenson, Robert 

1952 Music in Mexico: A Historical Survey. Thomas Y. Crowell, New York. 


16. Early Anglo- 
American Artists along 
the Camino Real 

Robert R. White 

John Mix Stanley 

John Mix Stanley was the first Anglo-American artist to travel 
extensively in New Mexico. He was the official artist with General 
Stephen Watts Kearny's Army of the West, and he contributed the 
illustrations to the report of the expedition. It was through Stanley's 
eyes that Americans obtained their first glimpse of the recently 
conquered territory. 

Stanleywasbornin 1814atCanandaigua, New York. Hedeveloped 
an early interest in Indians because of the Iroquois who lived near his 
home. In 1834, Stanley moved to Detroit to make his living as a sign 
and house painter, but shortly thereafter he began painting portraits. 
By 1842, Stanley was living in Troy, New York, and was beginning to 
make a reputation as a portrait painter. In that year, he and a partner, 
Sumner Dickerman, headed west to paint Indians in Arkansas and 
Oklahoma (Indian Territory). 

By January 1846, Stanley had painted 83 canvases that he thought 
were suitable for display, and he and Dickerman collaborated in 
exhibitions in Cincinnati and Louisville titled "Stanley and Dickerman's 
North American Indian Gallery." This promotion was obviously in 
competition with "Catlin's Indian Gallery," which had been touring the 
United States and Europe since 1836. 

In June 1846, Stanley joined a trading expedition on the Santa Fe 
Trail. Susan Shelby Magoffin was on the wagon train, and in writing in 
her diary of the beauty of a sunset at Council Grove, she said that it 
would be a fitting subject for an artist. She then remarked, "We have 


Robert R. White 

one in our Company, Mr. Stanley, rather celebrated for his Indian sketches." 

Stanley's wagon train arrived in Santa Fe on 31 August 1 846, about two weeks 
after General Kearny's Army of the West had conquered New Mexico in the name 
of the United States. Shortly thereafter, Stanley was appointed official artist for 
the army and was assigned to Lieutenant William H. Emory of the Corps of 
Topographical Engineers. (Emory mentioned in his journal that he had retained 
the services of "J. M. Stanly, draughtsman," misspelling the artist's name as he was 
to misspell many other words in the official report of the expedition.) 

Stanley left with part of the army for California on 25 September 1 846, heading 
down the Camino Real to Santo Domingo Pueblo and then on to San Felipe Pueblo. 
In his journal, Lieutenant Emory referred to "the pretty village of San Felippe, 
overhung by a steep craggy precipice, upon the summit of which are the ruins of 
a Roman Catholic church, presenting in the landscape sketch the appearance of 
the pictures we see of the castles on the Rhine." 

The army passed through Albuquerque and on 30 September was at Isleta 
Pueblo, where Emory stopped with Stanley to pay a social call on the alcalde. Emory 
recorded what transpired: "Mr. Stanly accompanied me, for the purpose of 
sketching one of the women as a specimen of the race. I told the alcalde of our 
object, and soon a very beautiful woman made her appearance, perfectly conscious 
of the purpose for which her presence was desired. Her first position was 
exquisitely graceful, but the light did not suit, and when Stanly changed her 
position, the charm of her attitude was gone." 

South of Socorro, the army was met by Kit Carson, who reported on the course 
of the war in California. Then near the Fra Cristobal Mountains, Kearny and the 
Army of the West left the Camino Real and headed west. They went through the 
Mimbres Valley of New Mexico and on through southern Arizona and southern 
California, finally arriving at San Diego on 12 December 1846, after several fierce 
battles with Mexican troops. 

Stanley went to San Francisco to complete in oil the sketches he had made 
when he was with Kearny's army. Emory's report of the expedition was published 
in 1848 in three editions (as a Senate document, a House document, and in a 
commercial edition published by H. Long and Brother, New York). The report 
included about two dozen lithographs from Stanley's paintings. Although the 
lithographs are very charming, they do not compare favorably with the original 
paintings that have survived; in many instances, the lithographers did not really 
capture the spirit of the artist's work. 


Art along the Camino Real 
















Robert R. White 

When Stanley returned to the East Coast, he enlarged his Indian Gallery and 
displayed it in a number of cities. In early 1852 he arranged to have 152 of his 
paintings shown at the Smithsonian Institution. His object was to induce Congress 
to purchase the paintings as the basis for a national collection portraying the 
original inhabitants of the continent. The purchase price discussed was almost 
$20,000. Congress failed to act, but the artist left his paintings at the Smithsonian 
in the hope that arrangements would eventually be made. On 24 January 1865, 
Stanley suffered a disaster of enormous proportions: a fire at the Smithsonian 
destroyed all but five paintings in his Indian Gallery. The fire consumed a 
substantial part of what the artist had been able to produce in three decades of 
hard work. 

A review of his major paintings shows that John Mix Stanley was a highly 
competent artist. The fact that he is not well known today must be due in great 
part to the destruction of much of his life's work in the Smithsonian fire. 

Peter and Thomas Moran 

Peter and Thomas Moran were among the prominent Eastern artists who 
toured New Mexico at various times during the territorial period. At the height of 
their fame, Peter and Thomas Moran had the reputation of "having been the first 
among the artists to recognize the picturesque qualities of the scenery of the 
Southwest" (Koehler 1885). A book published in 1883 (Original Etchings by American 
Artists, Cassell & Company, New York) contained praise for the New Mexico work 
of Peter Moran while at the same time criticized other artists for going abroad for 
inspiration: "Our young men ... go off to Egypt . . . while they neglect the Indian 
who is almost at their door. Here, upon the table-lands and in the canyons of New 
Mexico is all the color they need, all the glaring sunlight, all the romance of wild 
life, and — for that matter — all the dirt and squalor of the Orient." 

Thomas and Peter Moran were born in Bolton, England — Thomas in 1837 and 
Peter in 1841. Their family came to America in 1844 and eventually settled in 
Philadelphia. Edward, the oldest of the Moran brothers, became an artist and was 
eventually Thomas's teacher. Peter, in turn, was taught by both of his older 

Peter Moran remains something of a mystery to us; he seems never to have 
kept a journal or even to have written any letters — at least none have come to 
light — so what little we know of him comes from the writings of others or from 
trying to reconstruct where he was from his works of art. 


Art along the Camino Real 

There is some question as to when Peter Moran first came to the Southwest. 
It is certain that he was in New Mexico in 1880; he visited Taos, Santa Fe, and 
Jemez, and went to Santo Domingo in the company of General Hatch, the local 
army commander. 

In the summer of 1881 Peter Moran was back in New Mexico; in Santa Fe he 
met Lt. John G. Bourke, an army officer who devoted most of his time to 
anthropological studies. Moran and Bourke wanted to attend the Snake Dance at 
Hopi, but recent rains had washed out the railroad tracks south of Santa Fe. As a 
consequence, they obtained an army ambulance and left Santa Fe on the old 
Camino Real on the afternoon of 3 August 1881. They went to the Tablet Dance 
at Santo Domingo Pueblo and then were able to catch a train to Albuquerque and 
on to Fort Wingate. 

Peter Moran and Bourke borrowed another army ambulance at Fort Wingate 
and went to the Hopi villages, where they witnessed the Snake Dance. Bourke 
recorded their activities and travels in great detail (in 1884 he published a book 
about their journey). Bourke said that Moran was frequently sketching and was 
sometimes the object of considerable curiosity and interest; he commented on 
"Moran sketching, his every movement watched by a coterie of four naked boys, 
three mongrel pups, two full-grown Navajos, and six Moquis, who form his 
admiring clientelage" (Bourke 1884). After leaving Hopi, Moran and Bourke went 
to some of the Mormon towns on the Little Colorado River, rode on to Camp 
Apache, and then returned to New Mexico and spent some time at Zuni. 

In 1882, Peter Moran was back in New Mexico, visiting Taos, Santa Fe, and 
Zuni, as dated drawings of these places attest. In 1883 he seems to have spent 
some time at Albuquerque. After that, Peter Moran returned to the West only one 
more time, in 1890, when he spent some time in Wyoming. He was attracted to 
New Mexico for the same reasons that would bring many other artists in the 
following decades: he was fascinated by the Indians, adobe architecture, and the 
vast landscape (and, as an "animal painter," he loved to do pictures of New Mexico's 

Peter Moran was able to travel frequently to New Mexico because of a great 
technological advance: after the railroad reached Santa Fe in early 1880, Moran 
could get on a train in Philadelphia and be in Santa Fe in just a few days. No longer 
did travel to the Southwest have to be considered in terms of the speed of horses 
and wagons. 


Robert R. White 

Thomas Moran did not seem to feel the fascination for New Mexico that his 
younger brother Peter did — Thomas's favorite places were Yellowstone and the 
Grand Canyon — but he actually visited New Mexico more often than did Peter. 
Thomas Moran's first trip to New Mexico was during September 1881 in the 
company of his old friend, the photographer William Henry Jackson. Moran had 
agreed to provide some illustrations for a Colorado magazine, so with a private 
railway car at their disposal, the painter and photographer worked their way down 
from Denver to Alamosa and beyond. 

At one point, their railway car was stopped on a siding about twelve miles 
from Ojo Caliente, New Mexico. They sent a request to the hotel at Ojo Caliente 
for transportation, and in due time an ordinary farm wagon arrived at the rail 
siding. When they arrived at Ojo Caliente, they found a hotel that could 
accommodate fifty guests, and they were likely surprised when their first meal at 
the hotel began with Baltimore oysters! Thomas Moran was so taken with the 
location that he painted a watercolor of the old adobe church as seen from the 

On returning to their railroad car, Moran and his friends were taken to the 
Rio Grande valley, where they stopped at San Juan Pueblo. A few days later they 
stopped at the Embudo siding on the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad; from there, 
they took the wagon road to Taos Pueblo. Moran would do paintings of both San 
Juan and Taos in the following year. Ironically, Thomas and Peter Moran were both 
working in New Mexico in September 1881, though there is no indication that 
they met, and it is likely that each was unaware of the other's presence in the 

Most of Thomas Moran's subsequent visits to New Mexico were part of trips 
to and from the Grand Canyon. In 1892, on returning from Arizona, he stopped at 
Gallup and Laguna to do some sketching. The death of his wife in 1899 impelled 
Moran to travel more frequently than in the past, now often with his daughter 
Ruth. In 1900, Moran went to Colorado and then headed south to New Mexico, 
where he sketched at Laguna and Acoma. In May 1 901 he visited Laguna and Acoma 
on the way home from the Grand Canyon. In 1 902, surviving sketches indicate that 
Moran worked in the area of Acomita. In 1903 Moran and his daughter went to 
Mexico, but they stopped in Albuquerque in April and stayed for a time at the new 
Alvarado Hotel. He was at the Grand Canyon in 1904 and 1905 and sketched in 
Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona in 1907 and 1908. Thomas Moran visited the 
Grand Canyon in subsequent years, but he spent many of his remaining winters in 
Pasadena, California. 


Art along the Camino Real 






















Robert R. White 

Thomas Moran died in 1926 at the age of 90. His younger brother Peter had 
died in 1914. Their work provided many artistic and historical images of New 
Mexico during the territorial period. 

Suggested Reading 

Clark, Carol 

1980 Thomas Moran — Watercolors of the American West. University of Texas 
Press, Austin. 

Morand, Anne, and Nancy Friese 

1986 The Prints of Thomas Moran. Thomas Gilcrease Museum Association, 
Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

Wilkins, Thurman 

1966 Thomas Moran — Artist of the Mountains. University of Oklahoma Press, 


17. The Camino Real 
in 1846-1847 

Albert H. Schroeder 

Traffic on the Camino Real during the early Spanish colonial period 
consisted of periodic caravans from Mexico carrying mission supplies 
to New Mexico. Later this road also served as the major trade route to 
Chihuahua City for the governors of New Mexico and merchants 
handling such items as sheep, salt, and pinon nuts. With the opening 
of the Santa Fe Trail in the early Mexican period, some enterprising 
traders from the United States extended their Santa Fe trade south 
along the Camino Real to Chihuahua City. At the beginning of the 
American territorial period, during 1846-1847, traffic from Santa Fe 
to Chihuahua reached record proportions when U.S. troops involved 
in the war with Mexico made use of this primary route into a major 
theater of operations. 

The road from Santa Fe in the mid-1 800s, also known as the 
Chihuahua Trail, led down the east side of the Rio Grande to 
Albuquerque. There, one had a choice of continuing south on the same 
side of the river, considered by some as the most frequently traveled 
side, or crossing the river to the west side. The latter route to the south, 
preferred by wagon traffic, provided better forage, water, and trade in 
cattle and other stock for the army. These two roads rejoined near Fra 
Cristobal at the north end of the Jornada del Muerto. From the south 
end of the Jornada, the road remained on the east side of the river to 
a point a few miles north of El Paso, where a crossing was made to the 
west side to enter the town. 

From El Paso the road continued on the west side of the river for 
about fifty-five miles. It then left the river, turning west to Laguna Patos 
and then south through Laguna Encinillas to Chihuahua City. Other 
crossings of the Rio Grande took place a few miles south of Los Lunas; 
in the area of Lajoyeta; a short distance north of Socorro; four miles 


Albert H. Schroeder 

north of and at San Pedro; at Valverde; and three miles north of Fra Cristobal 

The terrain over which the road passed offered a variety of obstacles to cart 
or wagon travel, such as the sandy stretch above Albuquerque, two miles of sand 
between Albuquerque and Isleta, an "ugly" hill above Placeras, deep sand drifts and 
rocky creeks below the Puerco River junction, and a high sandy bluff two miles 
below Parida. This last area was considered by some to be the worst part of the 
road aside from six to eight miles of sandy hills south of El Paso, which most wagon 
trains usually avoided. Another problem was the lack of water — only one spring 
in the ninety-mile stretch of the Jornada del Muerto, and there is a similar lack of 
water over a sixty-mile Jornada to Laguna Patos and another forty-mile Jornada 
south of Ojo Caliente below Laguna Patos. 

The environment through which the road passed varied considerably; daily 
camps were made in areas with good forage and water for the animals and with 
wood for cooking, although at other times the camps were lacking in some or all 
of these resources. The river often froze in winter or ran with chunks of ice, making 
it difficult to cross. South of La Joya the banks of the river supported heavier 
growths of cottonwood and more cacti appeared among the vegetation. South of 
Dona Ana thorny plants became more common than they were upstream. 
Depending on the locale of the traveler, advance planning for the purchase ofwood 
or forage for the days ahead, particularly for the army, became an almost daily 

Settlements along the road ranged in size from villages to ranchos to 
individual houses. The region between San Pedro and Robledo, as well as between 
Dona Ana and El Paso and in all jornadas, lacked any type of settlement. Similarly, 
the stretch from Presidio, 25 miles south of El Paso, to Carrizal was uninhabited, 
as was the road from Carrizal to Chihuahua City except for Encinillas. Population 
estimates for some of the places, as described by one soldier, include Algodones 
with 1000, Bernalillo with 500, Sandia with 300 to 400, Albuquerque with an 
unknown number but stretching for seven to eight miles along the river, Placeras 
with 200 to 300, Tome with 2000, Socorro a "considerable town," El Paso with 
5000 to 6000, and Carrizal with 400. The Socorro-San Pedro areas represented 
the southernmost settlements of New Mexico. According to some travelers, the 
border of Chihuahua ran east-west, in the vicinity of Robledo, about ten miles 
north of Dona Ana. 


The Camino Real in 1846-1847 

Figure 48. New Mexico Mountaineer, c. 1840, drawn by Jose Cisneros 
(from Riders across the Century, Texas Western Press, UTEP). 


Albert H. Schroeder 

Traders and units of the U.S. Army purchased goods and supplies from the 
occupants of settlements along the way. The following list of supplies obtained at 
different places indicates the variety of food and other items available. 

2 mi. south of Cochiti — melons, peaches, grapes 

San Felipe — same as above 

Algodones — fruit, melons, bread 

Sandia — grapes, pears, peaches, wood, fodder 

Alameda — corn 

Albuquerque — corn, melons, apricots, grapes, wine, mescal, beer, bread, 

fish, meat, eggs, poultry, and fodder from a priest 
Los Lunas — corn 
below Isleta — eggs, fruit 
Valencia — pack blankets 
Plaza Chavez — whiskey 
Jarales — wood, chickens, bread, cheese, melons, molasses, meal, and a 

priest had wood, corn, and whiskey 
between Belen and Sabinal — cattle, mules, corn, wood, fodder 
above La Joya — corn bought from wagons going north 
Lajoya — corn, sheep, cattle, beeves 
Lemitar — mules 
Socorro — corn 
San Pedro — chickens 
Dona Ana — corn, watermelons, dried fruit, meal, sheep, cattle, pumpkins, 

El Paso wine, grain and forage for animals 
El Paso — fruit, beans, salt, soap, fresh meat scarce 
Carrizal — corn 
Laguna de Encinillas — sheep, hogs, beef 

The following are a few examples of prices paid or amounts purchased by the army, 
including trading or bartering by individual soldiers. 

Albuquerque — mule at $35 or ten at $40 each 

Trade three poor mules for three good ones plus $65. 

A brass button worth a dime in trade. 

A pin or a piece of wire for a melon. 
Valencia — unreasonable prices for mules, twenty-two bushels of corn 
Jarales — moderate prices 
Lajoya — thirty sheep, 14,500 pounds of beef on the hoof, twenty-eight 



The Camino Real in 1846-1847 

Parida — everything had doubled in price: beef at $20, corn at $6 per 

Luis Lopez — $93 for seven cattle 
El Paso — wheat at $2.50 per fanega 

The army salvaged some items from broken-down wagons abandoned along the 
road, such as axles or spokes, which were fashioned into picket pins. If an army 
wagon broke down, it was sent to a nearby town and placed in care of the alcalde, 
to be picked up later. 

Wildlife along the road, reported by common name below, sometimes 
provided travelers with food. Lt. James W. Abert (1962) listed scientific names for 
some of the birds, but several differ from names currently assigned. 

between Cochiti and Albuquerque — geese, ducks, cranes, curlews 
between Bernalillo and Albuquerque — shore larks, ravens, flocks of black 

Albuquerque — cranes, geese, brants, reptiles, frogs, turtles 
Pajarito to La Joya — turtles, fish 
Jarales — muskrat 

north of Casa Colorado — geese, long-legged cranes 
below Rio Puerco junction — red-winged flicker, shore larks, geese, 

brants, ducks, mallards, mergansers, teals, cranes (none white) 
La Joya — flocks of red-winged flicker, meadowlarks 
near Parida — crested quail 
north of Socorro — fish, bear tracks, beaver sign 
Socorro — creeper, woodpecker, red-winged flicker 
south of Socorro to north of Valverde — white fish with blue spots, quail, 

golden-winged woodpecker, butcher birds, swans, loons, 

mergansers, bald eagle 
Valverde — sparrow hawk, sapsucker, Mexican bluebird, deer, turkey 
between Valverde and present-day Truth or Consequences — otter, 

catamount, wild cat, plover, California quail, western meadowlark, 

creeper, red-winged flicker, butcher bird, swan loon, merganser 
San Diego — wolves, turkeys, fish, turtles 
El Paso — beaver 
Los Patos — ducks, geese 
Gaige — antelope 

When stopping at towns or ranchos to purchase supplies, travelers picked up 
news and rumors of ongoing events in New Mexico, Chihuahua, and even 


Albert H. Schroeder 

California. At other times, while on the move along the trail, an army or trader 
express came through from the north or south or from the United States carrying 
mail and newspapers. Merchants coming north crossed paths with others going 
south and exchanged news concerning Mexican and American troop movements 
in Chihuahua or referred to problems relating to duty costs at El Paso. Letters 
written on the road went to Santa Fe with an express or a trader returning north. 

In one instance prior to the Battle of Taos a courier from New Mexico was 
captured carrying letters to Chihuahua, indicating a readiness to plan an 
insurrection against the U.S. troops. Some news was received near Valverde only 
four days after the December 20th Battle of Brazito, and below Presidio five days 
after the February 4th Battle of Taos. On the other extreme, news of the Navajo 
Treaty took nineteen days to reach army units moving south. Mail from the United 
States eventually reached merchants or troops on the road. One letter received 
on 15 February 1857 contained news from 15 October 1846, four months out of 
date. On one occasion, troops in El Paso were cut off from all news for almost a 
month. On leaving the Rio Grande en route to California, Gen. Stephen W. Kearny 
and his Army of the West passed beyond the reach of existing mail facilities. 


or TKX 


M.D. Tbuditted linca repr» 
•ftol lb« Qt lb« C* 
V *Jry oo bolb fcldl*. 

Owwn*. £"f .; 4/nwn fcy Matlton 


"— CMAPARAlNV**" * .«* y 

j, icon HAc-i(a w y^-.;-?:i:r:i;;rtrJ^^ :U ' «x-.«.-»»"'^* c «*PA«i,"* 

Figure 49. Plan of the Battle of Brazito. 


The Camino Real in 1846-1847 

The army, new to the territory, hired well-known guides and interpreters with 
knowledge of the country and its people (Bieber 1 936). Kearny met Col. Kit Carson 
a few miles south of Las Huertas carrying dispatches to Washington from 
California. Antoine Robidoux also joined Kearny as an interpreter. Santiago Kirker, 
an American hunter employed by Mexico to fight Apaches, escaped when the war 
with Mexico broke out and came into Col. A. W. Doniphan's camp at the south 
end of the Jornada del Muerto (Connelley 1907). Pauline Weaver acted as a guide 
for the Mormon Battalion under Gen. St. George Cooke's force, and Antoine Leroux 
joined Cooke just north of the Jornada del Muerto (Bieber 1938). 

At this latter area, south of Valverde and Fra Cristobal, merchants and troops 
camped to prepare to cross the Jornada. This campground became a major target 
for Navajo raiders, attracted by the large numbers of livestock accompanying the 
wagon trains. During late October to December 1846, some 500 troops and 30 
merchants, plus teamsters with several hundred wagons, suffered from at least 
five major Navajo attacks, resulting in a large loss of sheep, some oxen, and mules. 
Raids such as these forced the abandonment of the village of Valverde in the late 
1 820s. In the area south of La Joya, sheep were brought down from the mountains 
in November, and armed men from different places would gather at Sabinal to face 
Indian parties coming down the Puerco River. One unlucky Navajo held captive at 
Isleta was kept in a hole in the ground 12-15 feet deep. The following day, a war 
dance was held over Navajo captives. 

Other raids by Gila and Mescalero Apaches took place at the south end of the 
Jornada del Muerto. One band of the Gila Apaches stole almost 900 sheep and was 
pursued sixty to eighty miles west into the sierras and Mimbres Valley. They also 
stole mules in Chihuahua and sold them in New Mexico, Socorro being one of their 
trading centers. Some stolen mules purchased by traders in New Mexico were 
reclaimed in El Paso by Mexican agents who kept record of brands for this purpose. 
In Chihuahua, north of the first Jornada, Apaches took most of one trader's ox 
teams, but after pursuit, sixty-three animals were recovered. 

Merchants carrying goods to Chihuahua needed passports to identify their 
nationality and to pass through El Paso. Two men from one firm, Cufford, an 
Englishman, and Gentry, an American, both carried English passports. Albert 
Speyer had a Prussian and an English passport. Other nationalities represented 
among them included Harmony, a Spaniard; Porrus, a Mexican; and Defoe, a 
Frenchman, illustrating the wide range of nationalities attracted to the trade on 
the Chihuahua Trail. 


Albert H. Schroeder 

Traders traveled with varying numbers of wagons, ranging from two to 
forty-five each. Samuel Magoffin had forty conestogas in his train (Drumm 1962). 
When the merchants entered the Jornada del Muerto, after camping for several 
months at Fra Cristobal, their wagons stretched along the trail for at least a mile. 
Five or six merchants placed a half million dollar value on their combined 
merchandise. The transportation cost to traders for each pound of goods to Santa 
Fe was nine cents, and to Chihuahua, eighteen cents. Calicos and prints bought at 
ten cents sold at thirty-seven and a half cents, and cloths costing about twenty-five 
cents sold for two dollars. Duties paid per wagonload at El Paso amounted to 
$1000 for goods that originally cost $2000 to $3000. While at the camp at Fra 
Cristobal, the merchants received word from the governor of Chihuahua to dismiss 
all American drivers and replace them with Mexicans, and to pay a duty of thirteen 
cents per pound and any internal consumption tariff that had been fixed by law. 
The drivers for American merchants were not dismissed. 

With so many people traveling on the Chihuahua Trail, some wagons would 
pass slower trains or meet other New Mexicans returning from El Paso. Companies 
of one army regiment would move to relieve another group en route to Navajo 
country or pass merchants on the road. Lieutenant Abert overtook eighteen men 
who had left the employment of traders and were making their way back to the 
United States. He employed them for his own return trip. The following day he 
met a contingent of Colonel Doniphan's men with sheep and cattle en route to 
join troops farther south. 

On those occasions when army units were camped along the road, they tried 
to avoid boredom, especially by playing card games. Depending on where they 
camped, the men would wrestle, hold running and jumping contests, race horses, 
smoke, sing, joke, lounge around, or sleep. They also visited with merchants who 
came into camp. Once in a while, when they were located near a village, the troops 
would take in some local activity, such as a marriage in Jarales between the 
alcalde's daughter and a wealthy ranchero. On another occasion, the town of Tome 
drew their attention as it celebrated an ecclesiastical anniversary, placing pine 
faggots on the walls of the town and church and sending up skyrockets and fireballs 
for three hours. Three or four priests officiated over the ceremony the next day. 

The traders had one luxury in being close to regiments plying the trail. On 
several occasions a doctor from the dragoons was called on to prescribe for a 
trader's illness or for one of his hired help. In one instance, a resident French doctor 
at Los Padillas tended Jose Chavez, who had broken both arms. This doctor also 
set an officer's dislocated elbow, charging a fee of thirty dollars, which some 


The Camino Real in 1846-1847 




































































I.M ,l!i I, .li inafcjyj— ^ 


Albert H. Schroeder 

thought was rather high. As for army personnel, those who fell sick on the Navajo 
campaign were sent to Socorro or Albuquerque for further care. 

Merchants on the road made a point of stopping at villages and visiting people 
they had met on previous trips. If camped in the same spot for several days, they 
would open some of their merchandise to attract buyers both locally and from 
nearby places. As a means of recreation, wagoners would go into nearby towns 
after setting up camp, which sometimes led to overzealous celebrations. During 
an extended stay at a town, sometimes traders would rent a house or a room to 
avoid camp life for a while. 

It appears that the needs and associated events of travel along the Camino 
Real in the middle 1800s only differed from those of today in the mode of 
transportation and the threat of Indian raids. Replace the words forage with gas, 
supplies with groceries, camps with campgrounds or motels, express mail en route 
with radio, water and wood with meal stops, guides with road maps, and passports 
with visas, and one finds many requisites in common. However, the rough surface 
of the road, exposure to all types of weather at all times, camps lacking the 
necessities of travel, and occasional lack of supplies in the 1840s certainly stand 
in sharp contrast to the comforts enjoyed by most modern travelers. 

Suggested Reading 

Frazer, Robert W., ed. 

1 98 1 On the Chihuahua and Santa Fe Trails, 1847-1848: George Rutledge Gibson's 
Journal. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 

Ruxton, George A. 

1 975 Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains, 1846-1847, reprint edition. 
Rio Grande Press, Glorieta, New Mexico. 


18. Military Guardians 
of the Nineteenth- 
Century Camino Real 

Julia Jordan 

This chapter places the story of the nineteenth-century American 
military forts along the trail in the context of the Camino Real. The 
Bureau of Land Management has planned for a permanent "Boots and 
Saddles" tour of these and other forts whose remains are found on 
public and private lands in New Mexico. 

The trail, broken by Onate in 1598 and extended to a northern 
terminus at Santa Fe when the territorial capital was founded in 1609, 
continued as an avenue for commerce until the 1 880s. The "Royal Road" 
was what would today be defined as a "way," in that it was maintained 
solely by the passage of traffic, far from having been "constructed," let 
alone paved. In fact, in 1800 most of the Spanish colony of New Mexico 
would have qualified as wilderness by today's standards, with 
settlements confined mostly to the Rio Grande valley, where the fertile 
soil deposited by millennia of spring floods enabled farming and 
livestock husbandry by Mexican settlers and sedentary Pueblo Indians. 

Along this north-south agricultural corridor traders wended their 
way from Chihuahua to Santa Fe, bringing goods and mail from Europe 
and Mexico and returning southward with livestock and products of 
rural craftsmanship. Meanwhile, out on the desert plains astride the 
river communities, the nomads of the Apache, Navajo, Comanche, and 
Kiowa tribes ranged freely, pausing occasionally to raid the scattered 
settlements and the merchant caravans along the Camino Real. These 
circumstances remained fundamentally unaltered throughout all of the 
turbulent years up to the 1880s, when the Camino Real was superseded 
by the coming of the railroad. 

When the nineteenth century began, the Spanish colonial regime 
controlled commerce along the Camino Real with an iron hand. As a 


Julia Jordan 

result of Spanish trade policies, merchants of New Mexico found it nearly 
impossible to maintain a balance of trade or any reasonable cash flow. Prices of 
goods brought from Chihuahua were extremely high, and even then they were too 
infrequently delivered. Thus, when American merchants broke a trail from 
Missouri to bring cheaper and better-quality goods to New Mexico, the resident 
merchants and populace eagerly snapped up the American imports. Leery of this 
new commercial competition, the Spanish colonial government often imprisoned 
the American traders and confiscated their merchandise. 

Even after Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, American traders 
were frequently harassed with ever-changing import regulations and 
requirements. Given the tremendous profits to be made by carrying goods to New 
Mexico, the American trade, far from being deterred, persisted and even 
expanded. In 1822 the Santa Fe Trail, stretching from Missouri to Santa Fe, in effect 
extended the Camino Real another 800 miles in an easterly direction. Although 
soon so many wagon loads of merchandise arrived in Santa Fe that the market 
quickly became glutted, the Missouri merchants determined that profits could still 
be made by continuing on down the Camino Real to sell their goods in Chihuahua 
and Durango. 

As always, Indian raiders along the way were a constant hazard to the trader 
caravans. In 1825, Congress authorized a payment of $800 each to the Kansas and 
Osage tribes to induce them to leave the wagon trains in peace. Still, to the west 
the Pawnees, Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahos, and Kiowas remained an ongoing 
threat along the Santa Fe Trail, not to mention the Apaches and Navajos, who were 
known to attack travelers on the Camino Real. Since American troops could not 
legally enter Mexican territory, the merchant caravans protected themselves by 
traveling in large groups and hired armed outriders to ward off Indians. 

When the United States went to war with Mexico in 1846, interruptions to 
the commercial travel between Missouri and Chihuahua were minimal. In fact, 
Susan Shelby Magoffin, a young bride who had just come west with her prominent 
trader husband, Samuel Magoffin, accompanied a commercial caravan all the way 
to Chihuahua in 1 846 without serious concern about the war in progress. Actually, 
New Mexico surrendered without a fight, thanks in part to the intervention of 
James Magoffin, Samuel's brother and another leading merchant of the day. 

After New Mexico became American territory, most officials in the new 
government were merchants who had been active in the Missouri trade. Given the 
traders' familiarity with conditions and mores in New Mexico, their service greatly 
eased the transition to American rule. 

Military Guardians of the Camino Real 

With American ownership came the end of trade tariffs and a tremendous 
increase in commercial and immigrant traffic along the Santa Fe Trail and the 
Camino Real. Once New Mexico was American territory, the safety of residents as 
well as travelers along its trails became the responsibility of the United States. In 
the 1 850s more than a thousand American soldiers were scattered among outposts 
at communities throughout the New Mexico territory. 

In 1851, Secretary of War C. M. Conrad, displeased with the ineffectiveness 
of the enormously expensive New Mexico garrisons in suppressing Indian 
depredations, directed Lt. Col. Edwin V. Sumner to take command in New Mexico 
and "revise the whole system of defense." Sumner began by moving military 
headquarters from Fort Marcy at Santa Fe, "that sink of vice and extravagance," to 
a new fort at the junction of the Mountain and Cimarron branches of the Santa Fe 
Trail — Fort Union. 

Other troops were moved out of the settlements into outposts "more toward 
the frontier, nearer the Indians." Hence, the post at Socorro was broken up and 
moved south to the northern terminus of the Jornada del Muerto, at Valverde. 
Here, Fort Conrad was founded. This location had for many years been a popular 
camping spot for travelers on the Camino Real, but apparently it was an 
inauspicious site, and in 1854 Fort Conrad was abandoned for a new fort, Fort 
Craig, located about eight miles to the south. Fort Craig was described by a soldier 
as "the best and prettiest fort in New Mexico." In 1 863 Fort McRae was established 
near Ojo del Muerto (Spring of the Dead), about halfway along the Jornada, at a 
point intersecting an east-west route often used by Navajos and Apaches. Fort 
Selden was constructed at the southern end of the Jornada in 1865, to guard both 
the Camino Real and settlers in the Mesilla Valley, near present-day Las Cruces. 

Until the nomadic Indian tribes were confined to reservations toward the end 
of the nineteenth century, a pattern of never-ending raids and skirmishes marked 
the interaction of the New Mexico garrisons with the Indian warriors. The Indians 
treated the settlements along the river and the travelers along the trails as a 
"renewable resource." Although settlers sometimes abandoned their rancheros 
because of repeated Indian predations, the raiders took a certain amount of care 
to leave enough behind to assure a continuing supply of food, livestock, and 
captives. New Mexicans actually took more Indians captive as slaves than Indians 
took New Mexicans, although the Indians apparently came out ahead on stolen 

The nomads knew the wild terrain apart from the domesticated riverside as 
no settlers or soldiers ever could. To soldiers in pursuit of a raiding party, the 


Julia Jordan 




















Military Guardians of the Camino Real 

Indians could seem to disappear where there was virtually no cover. Conversely, 
the Indians could appear apparently out of nowhere, and when least expected. 
Patrols of soldiers would escort merchant caravans or immigrant wagon trains and 
sometimes would succeed in protecting them. Pitched battles between troops and 
Indian warriors occasionally took place during this period, but they seldom 
seemed to make an appreciable difference in the overall pattern of depredation. 
The forts were small islands of resistance in a sea of hostile natives, and their 
success was limited in a way reminiscent of modern combatants faced with 
guerrilla warfare. 

In the midst of the ongoing "guerrilla" war, the Civil War intervened. On their 
way to the decisive western encounters of that war, Confederate troops under the 
command of Henry H. Sibley marched up the Camino Real from Texas to Fort Craig, 
where they engaged with Union forces in the Battle ofValverde. Military historians 
are not unanimous on whether Sibley or Canby, commander of Fort Craig, won 
the battle. Technically, the Confederates won the day, but their supply lines were 
sufficiently compromised to hinder them from winning the second, and conclusive, 
battle against troops from Fort Union and volunteers from Colorado at Glorieta 
Pass on the Santa Fe Trail. Taken together, these two battles ended any chance 
for Confederate victory in the West. 

After the distraction of the war was removed, an all-out effort was undertaken 
to control the Indians, who in the interim had taken advantage of the conflict to 
despoil the settlements. General James H. Carleton, the new commander of New 
Mexico forces, determined to place the Apaches and Navajos on a reservation 
constructed on the Pecos River and named Fort Sumner. There, the traditional 
enemies were expected not only to live in harmony but to take up the plow with 
good grace. They did neither, and they suffered greatly from cold, hunger, and 
disease as well as internal conflicts. After five years the imprisonment of the tribes 
was abandoned and the nomads were permitted to return to their old lands. 
Henceforth, the Apaches resumed their predations for years to come, whereas the 
Navajos withdrew to their country and more or less settled down. 

Apart from patrols and campaigns against the Indians, the life of soldiers at 
the forts was deadly dull routine. At first, the forts were constructed by the soldiers 
themselves, and their unskilled labor produced flimsy buildings of barked logs that 
harbored bedbugs and other insects, which quickly reduced them to sawdust. 
Some of the forts were reconstructed several times between their establishment 
and decommissioning. Many families were living at the forts, and the hardships 
for wives were sometimes extreme; they especially dreaded the military activity, 
which from time to time relieved the tedium for the men. Inhabitants of the forts 


Julia Jordan 

entertained themselves as best they could, with dances and plays, sing-alongs, and 
recitations. Less wholesome diversions, such as drinking and gambling, were also 
very common, despite constant efforts to bring such behavior under military 

The Rio Grande valley was ineradicably linked to the rest of American 
civilization in the early 1880s with the opening of the railroads over its full length. 
Electricity, the telegraph, the telephone, and other modern conveniences began 
to shrink the vastness of the wilderness, and gradually the nomadic Indian tribes 
were pacified and relocated onto reservations. When a heliograph was placed on 
Robledo's highest peak, near Fort Selden, to communicate between Fort Selden, 
Cooke's Peak, Fort Stanton, Mount Franklin, and Fort Bliss, settlers could be 
warned of the approach of Indian raiders. Geronimo was heard to lament, "If the 
white man can speak with light, the Indian can do little. Our day is finished." 

One by one, the forts along the Camino Real and Santa Fe Trail became 
superfluous and were abandoned: McRae in 1 876, Craig in 1 885, Selden and Union 
in 1891 . Now the forts are reduced to low ruins scattered across the desert plain. 
Some, like Selden (managed as a New Mexico State Monument) and Union 
(managed by the National Park Service), have been stabilized and have visitor 
centers. Fort McRae (under Bureau of Reclamation management) is somewhat 
difficult to visit since the creation of Elephant Butte Lake. Fort Craig, administered 
by the Bureau of Land Management, has been stabilized, and trails and visitor 
guides have been prepared. In the summer of 1989 the Battle of Valverde was 
recreated by Civil War buffs at the original site near Fort Craig. All of these forts, 
as well as several others, have been included in the "Boots and Saddles" tour, 
designed to make these historical locales more accessible to the public and to 
enhance their protection. Because they represent a significant period in the 
development of the Southwest as an integral part of the United States, they are 
worthy of attention and preservation. 


Military Guardians of the Camino Real 






























Julia Jordan 

Suggested Reading 

Bancroft, Hubert Howe 

1962 History of Arizona and New Mexico, 1530-1888. Horn and Wallace, 

Cohrs, Timothy, and Thomas J. Caperton 

1983 FortSelden, New Mexico. Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe. 

Grinstead, Marion C. 

1973 Life and Death of a Frontier Fort. Socorro County Historical Society, 
Socorro, New Mexico. 

Horgan, Paul 

1917 Great River. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York. 

Milton, Hugh M. 

1971 Ft. Selden, May 1865-June 1891. 

Utley, Robert M. 

1962 Fort Union. National Park Service, Washington, D.C. 


19. Civil War along the 

Camino Real 

Don E. Alberts 

The famous roadway running north and south along the Rio 
Grande bottomlands of New Mexico Territory had seen many an 
unusual sight, but none more so than the passage along it of both 
Union and Confederate armies. Those armies resulted from the 
attempt of Rebel Texans to capture and occupy the federal territory, 
and its defense by northern forces, in what became the westernmost 
campaign of the Civil War. 

The Camino Real's initial involvement came in the wake of Texan 
secession from the Union. The Union commander of the Department 
of Texas quickly surrendered all federal property to Texas authorities 
and agreed to withdraw his soldiers from posts within Texas. As a 
result, Union troops abandoned Fort Bliss, at Franklin (now El Paso), 
Texas, on the last day of March in 1861. Located where the Camino 
Real crosses into Mexico, the post would thereafter serve as a site for 
the concentration of Confederate troops. 

During the latter part of June and early July, Lt. Col. John R. Baylor 
led a battery of artillery and four companies of the Second Texas 
Mounted Rifles regiment into Fort Bliss as its new garrison. His 
immediate objective was capture of Fort Fillmore, in the Mesilla Valley, 
some forty miles north of Fort Bliss, near present-day Las Cruces, New 
Mexico. With approximately 300 men and audacious maneuvers, and 
aided by almost incredible incompetence on the part of Maj. Isaac 
Lynde, the federal commander of Fort Fillmore, Baylor was able to force 
his enemies to abandon the post on the twenty-seventh of July. He 
subsequently followed the retreating federal troops northeastward 
from the smoldering Fort Fillmore and captured almost the entire 
garrison, about 500 men with their transportation, arms, and artillery. 
The only remaining Union troops near the Texans were in the garrison 


Don E. Alberts 

of Fort Craig, New Mexico, some sixty miles north along the Camino Real, with 
the inhospitable Jornada del Muerto between the opposing forces. 

Although he quickly proclaimed all of New Mexico Territory below the 
thirty-fourth parallel to be the Confederate Territory of Arizona, Baylor's hold on 
the lower Rio Grande valley, from his new territorial capitol of Mesilla, was tenuous 
at best. Col. Edward R. S. Canby, commanding the Department of New Mexico for 
the Union, was busy reinforcing Fort Craig with the garrisons from other, 
less-defensible posts within the territory and by calling up volunteer and militia 
regiments from the territory's civilian population. These new soldiers marched 
southward along the Camino Real to bolster the regular federal troops already 
within the fort's reservation. Canby maintained contact with Baylor's Texans by 
sending out occasional patrols to reconnoiter the Camino Real and its enemy 
outposts. During September, the captain and nine soldiers in one such patrol, 
commanded by Capt. John H. Minks of the New Mexico Volunteers, were captured 
by Texans guarding the village of Canada Alamosa on the Camino Real, now under 
the waters of the northern reaches of Elephant Butte Reservoir. 

To counter the potential threat that Fort Craig represented to all that the 
Confederates had already won in New Mexico, a new Texan column reached the 
Fort Bliss area toward the end of 1861 . Commanded by Brig. Gen. Henry Hastings 
Sibley, a former federal officer who had served in New Mexico Territory, the 
approximately 3200 men with associated supply trains and artillery marched 
northward along the Camino Real and camped at scattered locations along the Rio 
Grande while Sibley concentrated his troops. Sibley proclaimed this brigade-sized 
force, consisting of the Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh Texas Mounted Volunteer 
regiments with associated support personnel as well as Baylor's men, who were 
already in the area, to be the Army of New Mexico. He assumed command of all 
Confederate troops in New Mexico and soon replaced Baylor as head of the local 
Confederate government. 

Sibley not only expected to defeat opposing Union forces easily, he then 
planned to occupy the rest of New Mexico north of Fort Craig; live off the land; 
recruit native New Mexicans to bolster his Texan ranks; attack and capture Fort 
Union, near Las Vegas, New Mexico, the military supply center for the Southwest; 
and continue on to the rich gold and silver mines around Denver City, in Colorado 
Territory. From there, Sibley believed he could go westward through Utah, where 
disaffected Mormons would join his band, and continue to the Pacific coast, where 
he would take Los Angeles and San Diego as warm-water ports for the South. His 
ambitious plans failed to take into account the subsistence economy of New 
Mexico, which would not support an invading force of more than 3000 men and 


Civil War along the Camino Real 

associated animals. Nor did they recognize the fact that, although native New 
Mexicans had little interest in the issues of the Civil War, they detested Texans 
and were unlikely to aid Sibley in any way. 

The Texan soldiers gradually concentrated around abandoned Fort Thorn, 
north of present-day Hatch, New Mexico. From there they scouted up the Camino 
Real to guard against any surprise Union attack, and they used the roadway to 
pursue small parties of Indians that periodically raided herds and supply dumps. 
Finally, on the seventh of February 1862, with approximately 2500 men, fifteen 
cannons, and an extensive supply train, Sibley moved northward along the Camino 
Real to attack Canby and the federal forces in and around Fort Craig. 

Colonel Canby had approximately 3800 men with whom to oppose the 
oncoming Texans; however, only 1200 were seasoned and trained regulars. The 
only complete and reasonably well-trained local unit present was Col. Christopher 
"Kit" Carson's First New Mexico Volunteer regiment of almost one thousand mostly 
Hispanic soldiers from northern New Mexico. Companies from the Second, Third, 
Fourth, and Fifth New Mexico Volunteers and hastily collected, raw militia made 
up the balance, along with a single company of Colorado Volunteers that had made 
a strenuous forced march to join Canby. This mixture of veteran and untrained 
troops awaited Sibley at Fort Craig. 

With some difficulty owing to fierce snow and dust storms, the Confederates 
pushed toward Fort Craig. By February thirteenth, advance elements encountered 
Union scouts along the Camino Real, but no confrontation developed and the 
federal troops returned to their post at dark. The next day yet another encounter 
resulted in a skirmish in which twenty-one New Mexico volunteers were captured. 
On the fifteenth, Sibley and his two subordinates, Col. Thomas Green and Lt. Col. 
William Scurry, came to a point some five miles south of Fort Craig. There, 
reconnaissance indicated the post was too heavily armed and manned to be 
assaulted successfully. Nevertheless, Green, acting as commander since Sibley was 
ill, decided to attempt to lure the federal garrison outside the walls of the fort and 
into open ground and battle. The Texans attempted this ruse on the sixteenth of 
February, extending their battle line across the Camino Real and into the gravel 
hills to the west. Canby refused to take the bait, although minor skirmishing 
resulted, leaving the Texans in something of a dilemma. 

Rather than return to the Mesilla Valley supply base, with supplies running 
shcrt, Green decided to move southward again from Fort Craig, ford the Rio 
Grande, bypass the fort to the east of the river, and then bring on a major battle 
by returning to the Rio Grande, thus threatening federal supply lines north to 


Don E. Alberts 

Albuquerque and Fort Union. The Confederates accomplished this flanking 
movement and camped some four miles east of Fort Craig on the night of the 
twentieth of February 1862. Their position brought on the first of four Civil War 
battles in New Mexico, the Battle of Valverde. 

The next morning, Texan advance parties reached the Rio Grande 
bottomlands five miles north of the federal post. They were opposed by Union 
forces sent by Canby to keep an eye on enemy movements. After both sides sent 
for reinforcements, the federal second-in-command, Col. Benjamin Roberts, sent 
his men and an accompanying artillery battery across the river to dispute the 
Confederate advance. Through the first half of the day (21 February) the battle 
raged indecisively among the cottonwood thickets around Valverde, a famed 
campground on the Camino Real. A charge by a company of mounted Texan lancers 
was withstood by the Colorado volunteer company on the north end of the 
battlefield, whereupon the Confederates sheltered themselves behind the banks 
of an old riverbed and were slowly pushed back by advancing federal troops. 

About noon, Colonel Canby arrived to take personal command. He brought 
more reinforcements and sent a six-gun battery of artillery east of the river to 

i>f t rf htn (.,„■» — . / " " " *i 

Figure 53. Battle of Valverde, courtesy of the Texas State Archives, Austin. 


Civil War along the Camino Real 

support his apparently victorious infantry. In desperation, the Texans delivered a 
furious mounted charge against Canby's lines on the southern edge of the field, 
at the base of the flat-topped Mesa de la Contadera. Kit Carson's First New Mexico 
supported the Union artillery at that point and rose from the bosque bottomland 
to decimate the Texan charge. Coincident with the mounted charge, however, 
Colonel Green delivered an equally desperate infantry charge against the Union 
artillery and infantry supports on the northern flank of the battlefield. It succeeded, 
overwhelming the raw native soldiers of the Third and Fifth New Mexico 
Volunteers and spreading panic through nearby ranks of some regular units. With 
his northern flank gone, Canby recalled his forces and sent them in retreat to 
protection behind the walls of Fort Craig. The Texans had thus won an impressive 
tactical victory at Valverde, but they found themselves almost out of food for men 
and fodder for animals. 

Having lost about 80 men killed and 150 wounded at Valverde and 
immediately thereafter, a number almost identical to federal losses, Sibley's 
Texans remained on the field to bury their dead, exchange prisoners, and 
reconnoiter Fort Craig for a day after the battle. With rations at a dangerously low 
level, however, they could not remain to besiege the post. Accordingly, on 23 
February, the rebels moved northward along the Camino Real once more. Passing 
Col. Robert Stapleton's store and the village ofValverde, they marched toward the 
villages of San Antonio and Socorro, where they established a hospital to care for 
their wounded and sick men. Continuing slowly northward along the highway, the 
Texans camped near the villages of Polvadera, La Jolla, Sabinal, and Belen, where 
they forded the icy Rio Grande and marched still northward to Peralta and the 
southern edge of the town of Albuquerque. 

The post of Albuquerque was a federal supply subdepot that Sibley badly 
needed to capture in order to continue his campaign north to Fort Union. His 
vanguard entered the town on the second of March, only to find that Union forces 
had removed or destroyed almost all the military supplies and rations stored in 
the post's buildings. Nevertheless, the Texans managed to secure a forty-day 
supply of rations and other necessary materials to continue the campaign. Sibley 
split his force, sending half through Tijeras Canyon to the eastern slope of the 
Sandia Mountains, on the military road to Fort Union, while he established himself 
comfortably in a headquarters in Albuquerque. His vanguard, commanded by 
Major Charles Pyron of Baylor's regiment, marched farther north on the Camino 
Real to its terminus at Santa Fe. Pyron occupied the territorial capitol on the 
thirteenth of March to find that its federal garrison, along with the territorial 
government, had fled to Las Vegas and the protection of Fort Union. 


Don E. Alberts 

Sibley commanded his divided forces from Albuquerque but quickly lost 
control of their actions. After two weeks in Santa Fe, Pyron's men, augmented by 
a locally recruited "Company of Santa Fe Gamblers," again advanced toward their 
supposed Union foe. This time, however, the Camino Real played no part in events, 
since the subsequent Battle of Apache Canyon, fought with advance elements of 
an approaching federal force on 26 February, occurred along the Santa Fe Trail 
near the village of Canoncito. 

After having lost few men, but capturing some seventy Texans, the federal 
column, consisting of the First Colorado Volunteers and detachments of Union 
regulars, concentrated its forces for a major battle with the Texans. Lieutenant 
Colonel Scurry, leading the Confederates once his regiment united with Pyron's 
vanguard, did likewise and brought on the key .battle of the Civil War in New 
Mexico, the Battle of Glorieta, on 28 February 1862. Again fought along the Santa 
Fe Trail, this time at Pigeon's Ranch, some twenty-five miles east of Santa Fe, the 
engagement on the main battlefield was a draw. Union flanking forces managed 
to get into the Confederate rear, however, and burn Scurry's supply train parked 
at Canoncito. That part of the Battle of Glorieta resulted in the engagement 
becoming a major victory for the federal troops, the high-water mark for the 
Confederacy in the far West. 

When General Sibley learned of the defeat of his field column at Glorieta, he 
left Albuquerque with most of his troops, who had been guarding his meager 
supply depot. He arrived in Santa Fe on the third of April, too late to recoup the 
fortunes of his soldiers, who had retreated into the city after the previous week's 
battle, and unable to find enough subsistence to remain long in the capital. His 
dilemma was soon resolved when he received news from Albuquerque that 
resulted in abandonment of Santa Fe by the Texans and their forced march back 
south along the Camino Real. 

On the first of April, Colonel Canby had left Fort Craig with a field column of 
more than 1 200 men and artillery, leaving Colonel Carson and the First New Mexico 
Volunteers to hold the fort. The federal commander had marched northward 
toward Albuquerque, calling for the Union troops who had fought at Glorieta to 
meet him near that town. Canby had decided to draw the rebels southward out of 
Santa Fe by threatening their supply depot in Albuquerque. He would then join 
the Fort Union troops in the mountains east of the town and, with the resulting 
overwhelming force, harry the Confederates southward and out of New Mexico. 
He apparently felt that the objective was consistent with his inability to feed and 
care for large numbers of prisoners, should he defeat and capture Sibley's brigade. 


Civil War along the Camino Real 


Figure 54. Union soldiers on parade at Fort Craig, courtesy of National Archives. 

The federal approach to Albuquerque had the desired effect. Sibley 
abandoned Santa Fe on April eighth, the same day Canby arrived before 
Albuquerque. There, the Union forces fired on the two Texan companies guarding 
the depot and then withdrew into the Sandia Mountains after dark on the ninth 
of April to join their companions just arriving from Fort Union. The Confederates 
gathered their meager remaining supplies and transportation and abandoned 
Albuquerque on April twelfth, traveling southward along the Camino Real on both 
banks of the Rio Grande. Three days later, the main Texan column had reached 
Los Lunas, while Colonel Green's Fifth Texas Mounted Volunteers were three miles 
away, separated from Sibley by a fast-flowing river. There on April fifteenth, at Los 
Pinos, just north of the village of Peralta, Canby attacked Green's regiment while 
they were camped around the mansion and fields of New Mexico governor Henry 

The resulting Battle of Peralta was one of the least bloody on record. Canby 
and Green exchanged artillery fire during the day, but there was no federal assault, 
and under cover of a fierce spring dust storm the Texans escaped across the river 
to join their companions at Los Lunas. Thereafter, Sibley's men marched 
southward along the Camino Real west of the Rio Grande while Canby's larger 
force followed along the east side of the river. 


Don E. Alberts 

Two days later, after once more passing through Belen and camping on the 
south bank of the Rio Puerco, the Confederate commanders were convinced they 
were being trapped between two overwhelming enemy forces, one led by Canby 
coming behind them and another still holding impregnable Fort Craig, ahead. As 
a result, they decided to abandon the Camino Real, burn most of their wheeled 
transportation, leave their wounded to be cared for by Canby, and bypass Fort 
Craig via a wide detour through the Magdalena and San Mateo mountains west of 
the fort. After dark on April seventeenth they began this epic retreat. For eight 
days, over a hundred miles of rugged terrain, bringing with them the guns captured 
at Valverde as their only tangible trophies, the Texans struggled southward. 
Meanwhile, Canby continued southward along the Camino Real, reaching Fort 
Craig while the Southerners struggled around it to the west. There, he sent out 
spies to monitor the progress of the Confederates but did not venture to attack 
the retreating column. 

By 25 April the rebels reached the Camino Real and the Rio Grande near its 
junction with Cuchillo Negro Creek. Thereafter, the Texans marched by easy stages 
back down the Camino Real, passing their old camps near Fort Thorn and camping 
at Willow Bar, north of Dona Ana, and at the Cottonwoods, some twenty-three 
miles from Fort Bliss, during the first week of May. They finally quartered in and 
around Fort Bliss and Franklin, gathering strength and supplies for the next month. 
Finally, after publishing a bombastic proclamation praising his army's successes in 
New Mexico, Sibley started his troops back to south Texas, leaving a rearguard to 
care for the sick in hospitals at Franklin and in the Mesilla Valley. 

The Camino Real played only one more role during active campaigning in the 
Civil War in New Mexico. By late June, Canby had a strong force that was equipped 
and organized to drive any remaining Confederates from the Mesilla Valley and 
West Texas. Before he had time to act on his plans, however, he had unexpected 
reinforcement. From the Department of the Pacific, a column of 1400 men, with 
attached artillery, had marched across the deserts of Arizona to Canby's relief. 
Arriving on the Rio Grande near old Fort Thorn on the fourth ofjuly, this "California 
Column" joined Canby's force, causing the final abandonment of New Mexico and 
West Texas by the Confederate rearguard. Thereafter, federal troops traveled 
southward along the Camino Real to reoccupy Fort Bliss and other abandoned 
government posts in the immediate area. 

The Confederate invasion of New Mexico was barren of tangible results for 
the Texans, but it forms an interesting and important chapter in the history of the 
territory and the Camino Real. 


Civil War along the Camino Real 

Suggested Reading 

The following recent scholarly works deal with the Civil War in New Mexico: 

Alberts, Don E. 

1984 Rebels on the Rio Grande. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 

Meketa, Jacqueline D. 

1987 Heritage of Honor. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque. 

Miller, Darlis A. 

1982 The California Column in New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, 

Older, but useful works include the following: 

Hall, Martin H. 

1960 Sibley's New Mexico Campaign. University of Texas Press, Austin. 
1 978 The Confederate Army of New Mexico. Presidial Press, Austin. 

Hollister, OvandoJ. 

1 949 Boldly They Rode (reprint of 1 863 publication). Golden Press, Lakewood, 

Noel, Theophilus 

1 96 1 A Campaign from Santa Fe to the Mississippi: Being a History of the Old Sibley 
Brigade (originally published in 1865), edited by Martin H. Hall and Edwin A. 
Davis. Houston: Stagecoach Press. 

Whitford, William C. 

1963 Colorado Volunteers in the Civil War (reprint of 1906 publication). Pruett 
Press, Boulder, Colorado. 


20. Rails on 
El Camino Real 

Vernon J. Glover 

As rails replaced rutted roadways in New Mexico, the Camino Real 
gradually faded from public consciousness. Having been 
over-shadowed in history by the impact of the rapidly developed 
freight and passenger traffic between the East and California, the 
traditional north-south corridor nevertheless continued to play a 
significant role in Western transportation. The new railroads 
completed in the early 1 880s not only carried routine carloads of goods 
and passengers, but they fostered many new Western industries. Coal, 
timber, ores, and heavy machinery were shipped north and south along 
the rails, thereby fueling and encouraging the boomtown economies 
of the period. 

The transformation of the Camino Real from a long, hard road to 
smooth, fast rails was accomplished by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa 
Fe Railroad (AT&SF) as part of the company's strategy to capture as 
much traffic as possible from the competing Southern Pacific Railroad 
(SP). Building out of Topeka, Kansas, in 1869, the AT&SF headed west 
toward Colorado, developing traffic from cattle ranchers as it went. 
Along the way, the company transformed its large land grant into a 
productive farming region by encouraging and supporting immigrant 
farmers from Europe. 

By 1876 the AT&SF reached Pueblo, Colorado, at the foot of the 
Rockies. In the meantime, the tiny, narrow-gauge trains of the Denver 
and Rio Grande Railroad (D&RG) were running up and down the Rocky 
Mountain front from Denver to El Moro, a company-developed town 
just outside Trinidad, Colorado. The SP, which was being built 
eastward from Los Angeles, California, was at the Yuma crossing of the 
Colorado River. The stage was set for the railroad conquest of New 
Mexico and Arizona. 


Vernon J. Glover 

Building the Railroads 

The SP made its move in early 1878, influencing the legislative assembly in 
Santa Fe to pass legislation aimed at keeping other railroads out of the territory. 
The reactions of the AT&SF and D&RG were swift and decisive. Both companies 
immediately sent construction crews into Raton Pass to prepare for the building 
of railroads into New Mexico. Following a brief confrontation, D&RG forces 
withdrew, but the AT&SF commenced its rapid advance down through New 
Mexico. By November 1878, the SP resumed its construction eastward across 

AT&SF trains began running to Las Vegas on the fourth of July, 1879. Service 
to Santa Fe began on 16 February 1880, and the Santa Fe Trail came to a practical 
end. Reclining-seat chair cars and luxurious Pullman sleeping cars reduced the 
once-arduous journey to a comfortable interlude. 

Construction of the AT&SF main line was then aimed at heading off the SP by 
proceeding down the Rio Grande valley as rapidly as possible. Trains reached 
Albuquerque on the fifteenth of April, 1880. The arrival of the AT&SF resulted in 

Figure 55. Laying track, courtesy of National Archives, negative no. 92-F-79B-21. 


Rails on El Camino Real 

another railroad company, the affiliated Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, hurriedly 
building westward from A&P junction, a point just south of Albuquerque near 

There was little to slow railroad construction crews proceeding along the Rio 
Grande. By the end of 1880, the tracks passed Socorro and the new railroad town 
of San Marcial. They crossed to the east bank of the Rio Grande and pushed along 
the Jornada del Muerto. The rails left the river valley for the same reason that the 
earlier travelers had — to avoid the wide swing of the Rio Grande and the many 
deep arroyos that enter the river valley. 

As the tracks were built down the Jornada, water supplies were found for the 
thirsty steam locomotives. Wells equipped with steam pumps were dug at Lava, 
Engle, and Upham, eliminating yet another danger of the old trail. 

At Rincon, the AT&SF main line swung west to meet the eastward advance of 
the SP at a point somewhere in southwestern New Mexico. The tracks were joined 
on the first of March, 1881, at the new town of Deming. The second 
transcontinental railroad route was open, and through schedules to California 
were established. 

El Camino Real was not forgotten in the rush of new traffic. The Boston 
capitalists behind the AT&SF long planned to extend their influence into old 
Mexico through the construction of the Ferrocarril Central Mexicano (FCCM). This 
route was to extend from El Paso, Texas, and Paso del Norte (Ciudad Juarez), 
Chihuahua, all the way to Ciudad Mexico. 

Construction of the FCCM commenced at both ends during 1 880, and a branch 
of the AT&SF extended from Rincon toward El Paso, opening for business on July 
first, 1881. The tracks of the FCCM arrived at Ciudad Chihuahua from the north, 
completing the conversion of the Camino Rail from roadway to rails. 

Rails over the Camino Real 

The changes brought to New Mexico and Chihuahua by the railroads affected 
all aspects of life. The long, dangerous journey over the old road became routine 
and even luxurious with the early introduction of Pullman Palace sleeping cars. 
Tourists traveled over the line in special Pullman trains outfitted with fully 
equipped dining cars. 

As soon as the Rio Grande was bridged and rails reached Paso del Norte 
(Ciudad Juarez), freight traffic increased markedly. Hundreds of carloads of railroad 


Vernon J. Glover 

ties and bridge timbers were brought from Arizona and New Mexico to build the 
FCCM. Coal from the new mines at Gallup fed the FCCM locomotives for many 
years. Even more significant were the effects of industrial growth. Mining boomed 
on both sides of the border. Ever-increasing tonnages of ores, coal, merchandise, 
and even carloads of ice from the mountains moved along the tracks. Smelters 
were built, and towns grew and prospered all along the railroad. 

One of the most spectacular mining and smelting developments took place in 
Socorro County, New Mexico, under the guiding hand of Gustave Billing. Rail lines 
of the AT&SF were its veins and arteries. Billing was an experienced and successful 
smelter owner and operator when he came to Socorro in 1 882. His first move was 
to purchase the Kelly mine, a rich source of lead-silver ore. Next he planned and 
built a modern smelting plant just west of Socorro, which opened for business in 
September 1883. 

Fuel for the smelter, in the form of coke, was initially imported. By February 
1884, coke ovens were operating at San Antonio, fed by rail from mines at 
Carthage, east of San Antonio. The branch railroad to Carthage had been opened 
during 1882 to provide access to the coal. 

Figure 56. AT&SF engine #137, "Baby" by Ben Wittick, courtesy of School of American 
Research Collections in the Museum of New Mexico, negative no. 15870. 


Rails on El Camino Real 

The Billing smelter ran successfully for eleven years until external forces 
caused its closure. Since the Kelly mine was worked out, increasing quantities of 
Mexican lead-silver ore were brought to the smelter at low tariff rates. Demand 
for silver decreased, and a competing smelter opened at El Paso. Finally, the United 
States Congress repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act in late 1893. 

Stockraising boomed in New Mexico. From 347,000 head in 1880, the number 
of cattle in the territory grew to 1 ,630,000 by 1890. Cattle ranching was a way of 
life in Chihuahua, and the railroad provided access to markets in both countries. 
At the same time, the tiny Spanish agricultural communities along the Rio Grande 
were overshadowed by Anglo towns along the railroad: Albuquerque, San Marcial, 
Deming, El Paso. 

Even as the Billing smelter closed, other mining and agricultural business was 
handled by the AT&SF and FCCM lines. Mining districts, especially those near 
Ciudad Chihuahua and Parral, were served by the FCCM, which was ultimately 
absorbed into the national railway system, Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico 
(NdeM). Chihuahua became a major smelting center. For a brief time, between 
1921 and 1931, lead mines in northern Chihuahua sent their ore to the El Paso 
smelter via a connecting railroad, Ferrocarril Chihuahua y Oriente (CyO). This 
short-lived operation was typical of the smaller mining companies. 

After about 1 905, lumber and timber shipments increased as mills in the Sierra 
Madre were linked by rail to Ciudad Juarez. Railroads, new towns, and mines were 
insatiable consumers of lumber and timber, so the demand was always there. 

Passenger Service 

First-class passenger service with Pullman sleeper cars was extended first to 
El Paso, and when the FCCM was completed in 1 884, all the way to Ciudad Mexico. 
Service soon settled into a pattern that lasted for decades. A daily first-class 
passenger train operated each way over the entire route, but through passengers 
were required to change trains at the El Paso Union Depot. The passenger trains 
carried the mails with such regularity that even a few hours' delay caused editorial 
comment in the local press. 

The AT&SF daily train ran overnight and carried Pullman cars from Denver to 
Albuquerque with the AT&SF transcontinental and with the NdeM train at El Paso. 
When the big copper mines at Silver City were working, an overnight Pullman also 
ran on a leisurely schedule between Albuquerque and Silver City. 


Vernon J. Glover 

The depression of the 1930s and the paving of roads greatly reduced the 
passenger traffic on the AT&SF line between Albuquerque and El Paso. A short 
daily coach train sufficed, while the mail contract supplemented sparse ticket 
revenues. When the overnight passenger train was taken off, truck farmers near 
Las Cruces complained that the morning service to their El Paso customers had 
been eliminated. A freight train was scheduled in its place. 

The overnight train and the Pullman car returned with better times and 
continued in service until 1953. After that, a single train of ancient baggage cars 
and modern stainless steel coaches pulled by a red and silver diesel locomotive 
made a daily round trip between Albuquerque and El Paso. In 1965, modern 
self-propelled diesel cars were assigned to the run, but they were taken off in 1 968, 
and passenger train service on the U. S. portion of the Camino Real ended. 

On the NdeM, the through trains carried full passenger accommodations: 
coaches, sleeping cars, and cafe-lounge cars. In the late 1950s the trains were 
modernized with nearly new rolling stock purchased from retrenched U.S. 
railroads. Trains 7 and 8, now named "el Fronterizo," carried full dining cars and 
bar-lounge observation cars that had once graced New York Central limiteds. 

With the opening in 1961 of the Ferrocarril Chihuahua al Pacifico (ChP) route 
over the mountains to the West Coast, fast two-car autovias, or motor trains, began 
to supplement the through trains between Juarez and Chihuahua, providing more 
convenient schedules for tourists. With a through sleeping car train and speedy 
autovias, the Mexican portion of the rail line retains its traditional services right 
up to the present. 

The Railroads Today 

General awareness of the railroads diminished with the coming of paved 
highways and greatly improved air services. Nevertheless, the rail lines along El 
Camino Real retain their value as part of the transportation systems of both New 
Mexico and Chihuahua. The NdeM line from Ciudad Juarez to Chihuahua and points 
south is a major north-south traffic route, and a solid main line freight service is 
maintained in addition to the three passenger runs each day. 

The AT&SF line, now known as the El Paso Subdivision, has long been 
overshadowed in traffic by the east-west main lines. It generally operated as a 
major branch line with through freight trains six days a week. Local freights ply 
the southern section of the line as well. The railroad occasionally serves as a bypass 
route if other lines are blocked by accident or weather. Over the years, the AT&SF 


Rails on El Camino Real 

has modernized its track and bridges along the line, and it is capable of handling 
heavy main line trains at speeds of up to 49 miles per hour. 

In 1986 the AT&SF inaugurated its Quality Service Network, a service of fast 
freight trains on major main lines scheduled to provide faster and more 
dependable service than any competing means of transportation. During 1987 the 
Albuquerque-El Paso route was added to the network with a round trip six days 
a week. In many ways, the rail route of El Camino Real continues to serve as an 
important part of the transportation system between two countries, two 
economies, and two cultures. 

Note: This article was written in 1989 and new dynamic information has come to 
light which, unfortunately, could not be included. 

Suggested Reading 

Bryant, Keith LJr. 

1974 History of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. Macmillan, New York. 

Garma, Francisco 

1 988 Railroads in Mexico, An Illustrated History, vol. II. Sundance Books, Denver. 

McNeelyJohn H. 

1964 The Railways of Mexico. Southwestern Studies vol. II, no. 1 (Spring). Texas 
Western College Press, El Paso. 


21. The Persistence 
of Memory 

Names along the Camino Real 


Our next camping place deserving of mention was Fray Cris- 
tobal, which like many others on the route, is neither town 
nor village, but a simple isolated point on the river-bank — a 
mere paraje or camping ground. 

Josiah Gregg, Commerce of the Prairies, 1844 

But where did the name "Fray Cristobal" originate? Gregg surely 
wondered about it as he sat with his companions around a campfire, 
a mere point of light in the vast darkness at the north end of the Jornada 
del Muerto on the Camino Real. Did his Hispanic companions tell him 
the tale passed down by their ancestors, of Cristobal de Salazar, the 
priest who had come north along this same route with Don Juan de 
Onate in 1598, the priest who was Onate's favorite, his cousin and 
sargento major, and who, returning to New Spain in 1599 from this 
harsh and alien land to seek reinforcements, had died here, never to 
see his home? "Tomorrow, when we journey south," Gregg's 
companions may have said, "you will see a mountain range named for 
the poor father, and perhaps you can see his face on its rocky crest." 

Today, the paraje of Fray Cristobal has vanished, but the Fray 
Cristobal Range survives, and now it is fishermen at Elephant Butte 
Reservoir who wonder, "Where did this name come from?" For it is 
among the ironies of names that they are among the most ephemeral 
and at the same time the most durable of human cultural artifacts. Of 
thousands of items left by thousands of travelers along the Camino 
Real, most have vanished utterly — yet many of the names remain. Las 
Cruces, Fra Cristobal Range, Socorro, El Cerro de Tome, Belen — all are 
as familiar to persons sitting in cars cruising at 70 mph along 1-25 as 
they would have been to drovers trudging beside the cumbersome 



carretas two centuries earlier. Even the name Camino Real survives, on historical 

Yet time and cultural change can erode even names, and we can only wonder 
what names the Indians used for the route that was already old when the Spanish 
arrived. Of the thousands of Indian names that must have existed along the 
trail — for Indians are very prolific namers — only a pitiful few have survived even 
as historical footnotes. Though the Piro pueblos the early Spanish explorers 
encountered have long since vanished, some of their names were recorded: 
Qualacu, south of present Socorro, meaning unknown; Senecu, slightly farther 
north, whose name in the extinct Piro language is said to have been She-na-ghua, 
"eye-socket, or spring hole"; and Teypama, still farther north, near the site of 
present Socorro, meaning "village flower" in Piro. 

Farther north, other Pueblo peoples were more resilient: Isleta, whose Tiwa 
name Tsugwevaga means "kick flint", for a popular game; Sandia, whose Tiwa name 
Nafiat means "dusty place"; San Felipe, whose Keresan inhabitants call it Kat-isht-ya. 

But as elsewhere in New Mexico, the Spanish language and culture soon all 
but overwhelmed the indigenous cultures. The pueblos were given the names of 
saints, and the Indian names along the trail were ignored or forgotten. Soon the 
ancient route, too, was Spanish, with a Spanish name — Camino Real, the "royal 
road," or as it also was called in the north, the Chihuahua Trail. 

VV,... 4 Untn iurrt <<-c 

.r- )V*,,IS/Cf 

Figure 57. Sandia Mountains, near Albuquerque, New Mexico, 25 June 1869, by Vincent Colyer; 
collections of the Albuquerque Museum, museum purchase, 1983 General Obligation Bonds; 

photo by Kennedy Galleries, Inc. 


The Persistence of Memory 

Beginning with Onate in the spring of 1598, the Spanish created names for 
places along the trail. When Onate passed by the mountains now known as Organ, 
he called them the Sierra de Olvido, "mountains of oblivion." Farther on, north of 
present Dona Ana, occurred the expedition's first death in what is now New 
Mexico, that of Pedro Robledo, who was 60 years old and a native of Toledo; where 
he was buried became a paraje, and today Robledo Mountain overlooks his likely 

As Onate's colonists crossed the harsh, arid stretch now called the Jornada del 
Muerto, they set up camp on the evening of 23 May without water. Later that 
evening a small dog strayed from camp — and returned with muddy paws. Its 
footprints led them to a spring they called Ojo del Perrillo, "spring of the little 

Some days later, Onate's party entered the Piro pueblo of Teypama, whose 
inhabitants received them with generosity, giving them water, food, and shelter. 
For the aid he received, on 14 June Onate christened the site Nuestra Senora de 
Socorro, "Our Lady of Help." 

j r 

Figure 58. Organ Mountains, courtesy of the Library of Congress. 



Figure 59. Isleta Pueblo, photo by C.F. Lummis.courtesy of the Southwest Museum, 
Los Angeles, negative no. P.7S95. 


The Persistence of Memory 

Most early Spanish names along the Camino Real were not formally bestowed 
but simply evolved from the incidents and observations of countless unnamed 
travelers. By the time of the Otermin documents of 1682 and the de Vargas 
documents of 1 692, many names along the Camino Real were already in place: El 
Mesa de Contadero, south of San Marcial, named because sheep were driven into 
a constriction between the mesa and the river so they could be counted; the Organ 
Mountains, which resembled pipe organs; Dona Ana, for the Spanish lady whose 
exact identity remains a mystery; Las Cruces, "the crosses," another mystery; Las 
Nutrias, "the beavers," south of Belen; Luis Lopez, south of Socorro, where a man 
by that name had his hacienda; Tome, where Tome Dominguez de Mendoza had 
his hacienda; and numerous obscure parajes: Las Tusas, "the prairie dogs"; Estero 
Largo and Estero Redondo, "the long pond or marsh," "the round pond or marsh"; 
El Nogal, "the walnut"; Vega de la Rio del Norte, "meadow of the river of the north." 
(The greatest landmark along the Camino Real, the Rio Grande, was known to early 
travelers by numerous names: Rio Bravo, "wild river"; Rio Caudaloso, "river with 
much water"; Rio Turbio, "muddy river"; and most commonly until the nineteenth 
century, Rio del Norte, "river of the north.") 

Figure 60. Zuni Pueblo, drawn by Captain S. Eastman from a sketch by R.H. Kern, 
courtesy of the Museum of New Mexico, negative no. 133944. 



The most infamous name along the Camino Real was Jornada del Muerto. 
Popularly believed to mean "journey of death," for the many people who died along 
it, this name is more accurately translated "journey of the dead man." In 1670, 
Bernardo Gruber, a German trader at Tajique, was arrested by the Inquisition and 
accused of witchcraft (Chapter 12). Imprisoned in Santa Fe, he escaped in 1672 
and fled south over the route later named for him. His desiccated body was found 
at a site to be called El Aleman, "the German." 

Eventually, communities sprang up along the Camino Real, some around the 
estancia or hacienda of a local landowner, others simply taking the names of the 
dominant local family. Around Belen and north, these communities have survived. 
For example, Barelas, still a neighborhood in Albuquerque, recalls the family that 
settled near an old ford on the Camino Real. But to the south, many communities 
and parajes were abandoned, the victims of Indian attacks, floods, or simply 
isolation. Nothing remains but their names: Acomilla, "little Acoma"; Canta Recio, 
"it sings loudly," for noisy pools in the Rio Grande; La Joyita, "the little basin"; San 
Marcial; La Parida, "the birth," for reasons unknown; Las Canas, "the canes"; Los 
Torreones, "the towers"; Sabino, "cedar." 

This was the situation along the Camino Real when the Americans arrived in 
the mid-nineteenth century, and the Spanish names taken together reveal a great 
deal about the people who created them, for names tend to mirror a people's 
values. And along the Camino Real the names showed what was important to the 
people who traveled and settled along the route: the land, religion, and family. 
Names commemorating natural features, such as Alameda ("the cottonwood 
grove"), El Nogal ("the walnut"); religious names, such as San Andres, San Marcial, 
San Diego, San Pasqual; and family names, such as Adelino, Bernalillo, Los Lunas, 
and Valencia — all remind us that the early Spaniards on the Camino Real lived in 
isolated rural communities, far from the centers of Spanish power. With the 
exception of Albuquerque, no places along the Camino Real were named to honor 
rich or powerful persons in either New Spain or Spain. To the contrary, the 
Spaniards along the Camino Real depended for their sustenance and support on 
the land, the church, and their families — and from these they created their names. 

The American conquest of New Mexico in 1846 meant the end of the Camino 
Real as it had functioned for approximately 250 years. Henceforth, New Mexicans 
would look north and east for their trade, not south to Chihuahua. Yet just as the 
ancient route had existed before the name Camino Real was born, so the route 
would continue after its Spanish identity was fading. When the railroad pushed 
south from Santa Fe in 1 881 , reaching Rincon the following year, it was only natural 
that it follow the route of the Indian foot travelers and the Spanish carretas. And 


The Persistence of Memory 














while the Americans kept many of the existing Spanish names, they created many 
new ones along the ancient route. Even before the railroad, the Americans had 
established forts, a luxury the New Mexicans surely envied: Forts Conrad, Craig, 
Fillmore, McRae, Selden, and Thorn — all named in the English tradition of using 
names to honor specific individuals, here usually military persons or political 
leaders. When the railroad spanned the dreaded Jornada, the engineers who laid 
the tracks named sidings for themselves — Crocker, Cutter, Engle, Pope, and 

Today, the Camino Real is history — and myth — and perhaps the most secure 
anchor we have to the reality that was the Camino Real are the names along 
it — names ranging from the grandiose to the tragic to the trivial. For the names 
are still with us, and like fingerprints on pottery shards at an archaeological site, 
the human imprint survives upon them. 

Suggested Reading 

Julyan, Bob 

in press Place Names of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, 
Albuquerque (scheduled publication date 1994). 

Pearce, T. M., ed. 

1965 New Mexico Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. University of New 
Mexico, Albuquerque. 

Williams, Jerry, ed. 

1986 New Mexico in Maps, second edition, University of New Mexico Press, 



Alcalde, alcalde mayor — mayor 
Alhondiga — municipal grain market 
Arriero — mule team driver, muleteer 

Bajada — scarp, escarpment 

Bolson(es) — basin(s) 

Bosque — woodland (generally riverine) 

Cabildo — town council 

Campo santo — cemetery 

Carneros, carneradas — wethers, flocks of wethers 

Carretas, carros — wagons, carts 

Chirrionero — wagon driver, wagoner 

Cienega — wetland, swamp 

Comerciantes — merchants, traders 

Conducta — caravan 

Convento — convent, friary 

Despoblado — desert, uninhabited place 
Don, Dona — lord, lady 

El Alemdn — The German (here, Bernardo Gruber) 
Encomendero — owner of estate granted by royal decree 
Entrada — entry, expedition 
Estancia — ranch 

Era or Fray — friar, father 

Hacienda — large ranch, estate 
Hidalgo, hijos de algo — nobleman 

Jicara — jug (here, made of gourd) 

Jornada del Muerto — Journey of the Dead Man 

Laguna — lake 

Malpais — badlands, especially lava field 
Manta — blanket 


Glossary (continued) 

Paraje — camp, campsite 

Peninsulares — native Iberians 

Penol — isolated hill with steep, rocky sides; butte 

Posito — municipal granary 

Rebozo — blanket 

Retablo — altarpiece 

Rio Abajo, Arriba, Medio — Lower, Upper, and Middle River (here, the three 

provinces of New Mexico named after sections of the Rio Grande) 

Sierra(s) — mountain(s) 

Tierra Adentro — Interior Lands (here, New Mexico and the Greater Southwest) 

Tierra nueva — new lands 

Tierra incognita — unknown/unexplored lands 

Vado — ford 
Vecino — resident 


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Note: Also see suggested readings after individual chapters. 

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1931 The Education of Henry Adams. Modern Library, New York. (Originally 
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1990 The Will of a New Mexico Woman in 1 762. New Mexico Historical Review 

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1939 Relacion del Viaje Que Hizo a los Presidios Internos Situados en la Frontera de 
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1936 Marching with the Army of the West, 1846-1848, by Abraham Robinson 
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1938 Cooke's Journal of the March of the Mormon Battalion, 1846-1847. In 
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1991 Mission Villages and Agrarian Patterns in a Nueva Vizcayan Heartland, 
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Faggjohn Edwin 

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Fournier, Patricia G. 

1989 Cultura Material en el Real de Parral durante el siglo XVIII. Paper 
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Frazer, Robert W., ed. 

1981 Over the Chihuahua and Santa Fe Trails 1847-1848: George Rutledge 
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Fulton, Maurice Garland, ed. 

1944 Diary and Letters ofjosiah Gregg, Excursions in Mexico and California, 
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Gabin, Vickie L, and Lee E. Lesperance 

1 977 New Mexico Climatological Data: Precipitation, Temperature, Evaporation, 
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Garcia Carcel, Ricardo, and Lourdes Mateo Bretos 

1990 La Leyenda Negra. Biblioteca Basica, Madrid. 

Gerald, Rex E. 

1968 Spanish Presidios of the Late Eighteenth Century in Northern New Spain. 
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Gerhard, Peter 

1982 The North Frontier of New Spain. Princeton University Press, Princeton, 

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1933 Commerce of the Prairies. Southwest Press, Dallas. (Originally published 
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1966 Commerce of the Prairies, 2 vols. Readex Microprint. 


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Hackett, C. W., and C. C. Shelby 

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1966 The Rediscovery of New Mexico, 1580-1594: The Explorations ofChamus- 
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Hardy, Robert William Hale 

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Hodge, Frederick W., George P. Hammond, and Agapito Rey 

1945 Fray Alonso de Benavides' Revised Memorial of 1634. University of New 
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Hughes, Anne E. 

1914 The Beginnings of Spanish Settlement in the El Paso District. University 
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Hughes, John T. 

1 907 Doniphan's Expedition: Containing an Account of the Conquest of New 
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1967 Physiography of the United States. W. H. Freeman, San Francisco and 



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Jackson, Donald Dale, and Peter Wood 

1975 The Sierra Madre. Time-Life Books, Alexandria, Virginia. 

Jenkins, Myra Ellen, and Albert H. Schroeder 

1974 A Brief History of New Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, 

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1935 Narrative of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition, 2 vols. The Steck Company, 
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1979 Kiva, Cross.and Crown: The Pecos Indians and New Mexico, 1540-1840. 
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Kincaid, Chris, ed. 

1983 Chaco Roads Project Phase I: A Reappraisal of Prehistoric Roads in the San 
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1990 Las Entriegas: Ceremonial Music and Cultural Resistance on the Upper 
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1990 Satevo, Periodo Colonial. Ediciones del Gobierno del Estado de Chihua- 
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Montgomery, Ross Gordon, Watson Smith, and John Otis Brew 

1 949 Franciscan Awatovi: The Excavation and Conjectural Reconstruction of a 
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